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   Author  Topic: state removal  (Read 12680 times)
klbarrus
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state removal  
« on: Jul 29th, 2002, 11:28am »
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I've actually been asked this question interviewing at Microsoft.  So, here is a summary of what I covered:
 
I approached from the standpoint of "how realistic are the chances of getting support" for removal of a state:
 
1) don't actually remove a state, but combine 2 neighbors.
1a) 2 neighboring small states, like Rhode Island and Connecticut
1b) 2 neighboring low population states, like North and South Dakota
1c) 2 neighboring similar states, like Washington and Oregon (medium population, similar climate, etc.)
1d) perhaps Virginia and West Virginia would combine, or North/South Carolina would combine.  I argued here that these state had long histories and the population would be unlikely to agree to a merger (e.g. West Virginia split off Virginia in the Civil War timeframe; North/south Carolina were original colonies).
 
I argued various other possibilities were extremely unlikely (combining non-adjacent states, combining high population states, etc.)
 
2) split a state and have it join 2 neighbors
 
This is also unlikely to happen, but I found a special case: Nevada, California, and Utah.  Most of Nevada's population is along the border with California, so perhaps Nevada would agree to combining the border region with California, and combining the rest of the desert with Utah Wink  Of course, gambling laws would need to be worked out, etc.
 
In the end, the interviewer indicated the "correct" answer was to divide a square state (like Colorado or Wyoming) into several parts (presumably rectangular) and merging with all the neighbor states.
 
I replied I thought that was least likely of all, the more states involved the harder and less likely they would all go along, etc.
 
But no, the "correct" answer involved Colorado into several parts and merging with multiple neighbors.
 
I'd never been so angry at the end of an interview.  I thought I had covered every realistic possibility but it boiled down to me skipping dividing a state into multiple parts (>2) and arguing anything higher was unlikely, and the interviewer being totally arbitrary.
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Alex Harris
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Re: state removal  
« Reply #1 on: Jul 29th, 2002, 11:59am »
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Maybe submitting to obtuse and arbitrary bosses was one of the job requirements   Roll Eyes It's the prime requisite in a fair number of places.
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william wu
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Re: state removal  
« Reply #2 on: Jul 29th, 2002, 1:32pm »
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on Jul 29th, 2002, 11:28am, klbarrus wrote:

In the end, the interviewer indicated the "correct" answer was to divide a square state (like Colorado or Wyoming) into several parts (presumably rectangular) and merging with all the neighbor states.
 
I replied I thought that was least likely of all, the more states involved the harder and less likely they would all go along, etc.
 
But no, the "correct" answer involved Colorado into several parts and merging with multiple neighbors.
 
I'd never been so angry at the end of an interview. I thought I had covered every realistic possibility but it boiled down to me skipping dividing a state into multiple parts (>2) and arguing anything higher was unlikely, and the interviewer being totally arbitrary.

 
Truly hilarious.
 
But now I'm more curious. Did the interviewer supply reasons for why his "correct" answer was so correct?
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klbarrus
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Re: state removal  
« Reply #3 on: Jul 29th, 2002, 6:08pm »
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Actually, she never said "this is the correct answer".  At the end, it was more like "but what about splitting a state into multiple regions and combining with all the neighbors" and "Colorado is rectangular and easy to divide" and so forth.
 
She had no comment either way about my other solutions, and was totally stuck on dividing Colorado.
 
I wasn't sure if she wanted me to go into depth about satellite photography and how it isn't that tough with modern technology to divide an irregularly shaped state into equal parts, or admit that dividing a state into multiple parts is a valid method that I skipped.  She was very hung up on dividing equally area wise, as if population densities or other considerations didn't matter.
 
We talked for a long time, as a portion of the interview, about why I thought involving more states made is less likely for success, and she always seemed to ignore this reasoning and return to dividing Colorado equally.
 
So maybe the interviewer had some grudge against the state of Colorado, was fascinated with that state's rectangular shape or fascinated with easy geometric constructions (divide a rectangle into equal areas).  Or was just being difficult for the sake of being difficult.
 
I got impression that was the "correct" answer (i.e. the one she was looking for) because had I provided it she wouldn't have had anything to say Smiley
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william wu
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Re: state removal  
« Reply #4 on: Jul 29th, 2002, 6:43pm »
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How offensive. Grrrrr. You know what I'd do? I'd challenge her with a riddle. Let's say we use a magic marker to draw two dotted lines across Colorado -- one down the middle vertically, and the other down the middle horiziontally. Now we have four rectangular sectors. Then let's say we remove one of those sectors, so that what remains is an L shape. Now divide that L shape into four pieces of equal area.  
 
If she fails to solve the riddle, she probably still won't hire you, but at least you'd make her feel hypocritical and perhaps pathetic.
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Will
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Re: state removal  
« Reply #5 on: Jul 30th, 2002, 7:25am »
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It sounds like she was testing how you accept someone changing your idea.  She sort of took your idea about Nevada and changed it to Colorado for different reasoning.
It appears that the test is twofold.  The first is to test your logic and thought process.  They give you a question, an assignment if you will, which you put a lot of thought into. You know darn well that your solution is the most logical, from your perspective.  After you finish your assignment you give it to the boss for his/her approval.  He/she disregards your logic, but uses your solution (divid a state) to come up with a new solution, which makes no sense to you.
I believe that there is no "correct" answer, they just wanted to see how much thought you could put into the question, then tell you that there is a better answer, regardless of your answer, and guage how you react.
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bartleby
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Re: state removal  
« Reply #6 on: Jul 30th, 2002, 12:38pm »
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Yes, that "psychological wringer" was probably the purpose... and actually VERY RELEVANT for working in a tech field!!!   I can't tell you how many times I've thought long and hard to come up with what I thought was a clever and elegant solution, and then have it shot down by a pointy-haired boss for illogical reasons....
 
 
Actually, my answer to this question was:  Alaska!  If we "got rid" of Alaska, I interpreted that to mean, "The U.S. no longer has control of the land... so Alaska would be its own sovereign country....  and so they could elect a king to get rid of that idiotic senator.... and prevent drilling in ANWR!"  A cause dear to my heart.  ("You don't vote for king!"  Shut up...)
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Will
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Re: state removal  
« Reply #7 on: Jul 30th, 2002, 1:48pm »
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Cheesy
bartleby bartleby bartleby
If you only knew how funny that is to me.  I work in Kuparuk, which is a stones throw from ANWR.  You are not missing anything.  Trust me.  That is unless, of course, you like to look at a bunch of nothing.  Wanna know what it looks like up here 7-8 months a year?  Stare at a blank sheet of paper.  Seriously.
 Smiley
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-D-
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Re: state removal  
« Reply #8 on: Jul 30th, 2002, 3:32pm »
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Well... I don't know about what state I'd get rid of.... Alaska is so far removed from the rest of the continental states that it's like more people sort of forget it's even a state.  maybe we should give Alaska to Canada.  But no... we paid big bucks to buy that chunk of ice from the Russians.  Ok never mind.
 
Anyway, the only reason I'm posting is that I took an Environmental Science class last semester for some GE credit and we had a guest speaker that spent a lot of time in ANWR talk about it.  He had some really nice photos and some pretty horrendous statistics.  I'll grant that he probably presented a biased point of view but it's really frightening how Oil readings are presented.  The worst part is that even at the best chances (the 5% chance of getting X amount of barrels), it will hardly make any impact on our gas prices or reserves, the amount of Oil in ANWR is like a teaspoon compared to the reserves in the mid east.  
 
I'm not an environmentalist and I'm not going to become an environmentalist.  But all the wildlife mitigation laws that are in place right now are a joke....
 
I'd be curious as to what the attitude is of people who live near ANWR is?
-D-
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Re: state removal  
« Reply #9 on: Jul 30th, 2002, 5:21pm »
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I think the correct answer to this riddle is "Why the hell would I want to remove a state?"
 
The only halfway interesting way to look at the question is in terms of motivation; in other words, "I'd get rid of Texas because they'd get Dubya" or something like that.  The mechanics of actually getting rid of the state are boring because all approaches are equally trivial and unrealistic.  Any state could be eliminated by glomming its land area onto a neighboring state or country.  Dividing Colorado into equal chunks is no more realistic, practical or elegant than giving Texas back to Mexico or sticking Washington onto Oregon.
 
All the Microsoft riddles strike me as somewhat stupid, patronizing and subjective.  Hmmm...
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Ryan
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Re: state removal  
« Reply #10 on: Jul 30th, 2002, 9:13pm »
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Delaware.
 
Think about it....have you ever been to Delaware?  Do you know anyone from Delaware?  Do you ever HEAR anything about Delaware?
 
It's a government testing ground, I tell you.
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Brion
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Re: state removal  
« Reply #11 on: Jul 31st, 2002, 3:13pm »
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The lowest, highest point....is DELAWARE!
 
(Don't believe me?  Ask Moxy Fruvous.)
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OMG
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Re: state removal  
« Reply #12 on: Aug 5th, 2002, 5:55pm »
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Tongue
Lowest Highest state = Flori-duh
 
I nominate Wyoming.
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Paul Hsieh
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Re: state removal  
« Reply #13 on: Aug 6th, 2002, 9:54pm »
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South Carolina.  They wanna fly a fricking confederate flag, screw em.  Kick them out.  They're kind of a useless state anyhow.
 
On the other hand getting rid of Nevada would give it sovereignty that would prevent us from sending Nuclear waste to Yucca mountain (they would simply refuse).  That would set back the Nuclear Waste adgenda, and hence set back the Nuclear Industry itself.
 
Oh wait -- this is Microsoft asking these questions -- Washington State.  That way Bill could take power easily and not have to be bothered by silly little "anti-trust" laws.
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Marco Marrero
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Re: state removal  
« Reply #14 on: Aug 22nd, 2002, 8:58pm »
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I would remove Hawaii, it's already "removed"...  
 
But.. considering how badly tough and illogical are most Microsoft APIs (application programming interfaces) they would be satisfied if I told them I would do like Bugs Bunny - use a saw to cut Florida.  
 
Their programmers are good, I think that management is the problem. Maybe that's why the Excel 95 easter egg "Hall of tortured souls".
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Robert Grimsley
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Re: state removal  
« Reply #15 on: Aug 23rd, 2002, 1:44pm »
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I will take it as my personal responsibility to inform the 13 million people who visit Myrtle Beach alone (3rd biggest resort in the eastern US behind WDW and Atlantic City), not to mention visitors to Charleston and Hilton Head, that we are 'useless' and they should just stay home.
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KT
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Re: state removal  
« Reply #16 on: Aug 30th, 2002, 5:14am »
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If klbarrus approached this question from the 'likelihood of getting support' standpoint, why not go for removing Florida?
All one would need to get support is put it on a 'punch' type ballot and present it to the people there.
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thelonious
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Re: state removal  
« Reply #17 on: Oct 22nd, 2002, 7:09pm »
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Of course you could just give Alaska to the Canadians in a supreme show of good will.
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Thomas
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Re: state removal  
« Reply #18 on: Nov 10th, 2002, 11:57am »
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Why don't we annex all the provinces of canada except for Quebec?  The we could take all the New England states and combine them as one state (except for Maine, split main up in 2).  Then seperate the territory we annexed from canada added with Alaska and seperate them into the appropriate number of states so we have 49.
 
Of course this sounds great and it'd be interesting to see what the microsoft poeple said to your responce.  If they excepted it as valid you could just laugh at them because, yes you did make 49 states but the questions was about removing one state.  In my scenario not only did i fail to remove a state but i also added more terriroty.
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Thomas
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Re: state removal  
« Reply #19 on: Nov 10th, 2002, 11:59am »
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1/2 of maine would be in the new england state and the other half part of one of the canadian states.
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DBCooper
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Re: state removal  
« Reply #20 on: Apr 13th, 2003, 3:43pm »
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I wanted to chime in with respect to the Microsoftie asking about Colorado and coming back to that after you supplying your solutions and arguments. My feeling is that the interviewer, knowing the question, had various solutions in mind, and, after you discussed your ideas, the interviewer is going to lay out all of the answer he/she knew that you didn't mention. The weight of the answers supplied by the interviewer aren't necessarily great, but the more they can answer the question the worse you might have brainstormed.
This seems plausible to me as one who's been through several interviews on both sides in the industry.
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Phuoc
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Re: state removal  
« Reply #21 on: Jul 10th, 2003, 12:56pm »
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This one's easy.  Sell Louisiana back to France.
 
Phuoc
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wowbagger
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Re: state removal  
« Reply #22 on: Jul 10th, 2003, 1:14pm »
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on Jul 10th, 2003, 12:56pm, Phuoc wrote:
Sell Louisiana back to France.

Well, you didn't answer the "why" part, but that's a minor point. You do know that the Lousiana purchase was a lot more than what nowadays is the state of Louisiana, don't you?
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Phuoc
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Re: state removal  
« Reply #23 on: Jul 10th, 2003, 1:49pm »
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on Jul 10th, 2003, 1:14pm, wowbagger wrote:

Well, you didn't answer the "why" part, but that's a minor point. You do know that the Lousiana purchase was a lot more than what nowadays is the state of Louisiana, don't you?

 
Yes, but we were asked to only get rid of 1 state  Grin.  As for a reason: This may improve American-French relations since they felt we screwed them in that purchase.  But come to think of it, the Mississippi's mouth is in LA isn't it?  It may not be that good of an idea after all.
 
Second choice: Sell California back to Mexico.  Reasons:
 
1. With the latino population growth rate as it is now, it won't be long until CA is essentially Mexico anyways.
 
2. Mexicans have long complained that we stole California from them.
 
3. And the most important reason: Oracle Corporation is headquartered in California.
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Chewdog
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Re: state removal  
« Reply #24 on: Jul 10th, 2003, 8:48pm »
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Let's get rid of
Canada!!! Canada!!! Canada!!! Canada!!! Canada!!! Canada!!! Canada!!! Canada!!! Canada!!! Canada!!! Canada!!! Canada!!! Canada!!! Canada!!!

 
Oh wait that's not a state.... darn now i know i won't be getting a job any time soon  Wink
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