IBM Research "Ponder This" Puzzlemaster Comes to Tech

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A School of Mathematics Seminar with IBM Research puzzlemaster Oded Margalit

IBM Research runs a mathematical challenge site, called "Ponder This." Every month the site posts a new  challenge and reveals the solution for the previous month's riddle. Oded Margalit has been the puzzlemaster since 2005.  He will survey some of the riddles over the years and tell some anecdotes about the challenges and the solvers, for example: 

  • PRL paper born from a riddle on random walks 
  • ITA-2014 paper on water hose model (using quantum entanglement to break location based encryption)
  • Games: 2048, Kakuro, Infinite chess game, the probability of a backgammon to end with a double Fisher Foul Chess and more 
  • Minimal hash function 
  • Combinatorial test design 
  • A solver from the intensive care unit and other stories 
  • Finding a natural number n such that round ((1+2 cos(20))^n) is divisible by 10^9

Don't worry! No high mathematics knowledge is assumed.

About the Speaker
Oded Margalit received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from Tel-Aviv University under the supervision of Zvi Galil, now the dean of the Georgia Tech College of Computing. 

Margalit has worked at IBM's Haifa research lab on machine learning and constraint satisfaction, verification, and more. He is the chief technology officer of the IBM Cyber Security Center of Excellence at Ben Gurion University of the Negev.

Oded participates in organising several computer science competitions, such as the international IEEEXtreme and the national CodeGuru. He loves riddles and is the author of "Ponder This," the monthly challenge corner of IBM Research.


  • Workflow Status:Published
  • Created By:sbarone7
  • Created:03/07/2018
  • Modified By:A. Maureen Rouhi
  • Modified:03/07/2018


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