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riddles >> microsoft >> state removal
(Message started by: klbarrus on Jul 29th, 2002, 11:28am)

Title: state removal
Post by klbarrus on Jul 29th, 2002, 11:28am
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 ;)  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.

Title: Re: state removal
Post by Alex Harris on Jul 29th, 2002, 11:59am
Maybe submitting to obtuse and arbitrary bosses was one of the job requirements   ::) It's the prime requisite in a fair number of places.

Title: Re: state removal
Post by william wu on Jul 29th, 2002, 1:32pm

on 07/29/02 at 11:28:54, 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?

Title: Re: state removal
Post by klbarrus on Jul 29th, 2002, 6:08pm
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 :)

Title: Re: state removal
Post by william wu on Jul 29th, 2002, 6:43pm
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.

Title: Re: state removal
Post by Will on Jul 30th, 2002, 7:25am
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.

Title: Re: state removal
Post by bartleby on Jul 30th, 2002, 12:38pm
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...)

Title: Re: state removal
Post by Will on Jul 30th, 2002, 1:48pm
:D
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.
:)

Title: Re: state removal
Post by -D- on Jul 30th, 2002, 3:32pm
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-

Title: Re: state removal
Post by Your name here on Jul 30th, 2002, 5:21pm
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...

Title: Re: state removal
Post by Ryan on Jul 30th, 2002, 9:13pm
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.  

Title: Re: state removal
Post by Brion on Jul 31st, 2002, 3:13pm
The lowest, highest point....is DELAWARE!

(Don't believe me?  Ask Moxy Fruvous.)

Title: Re: state removal
Post by OMG on Aug 5th, 2002, 5:55pm
:P
Lowest Highest state = Flori-duh

I nominate Wyoming.

Title: Re: state removal
Post by Paul Hsieh on Aug 6th, 2002, 9:54pm
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.

Title: Re: state removal
Post by Marco Marrero on Aug 22nd, 2002, 8:58pm
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".

Title: Re: state removal
Post by Robert Grimsley on Aug 23rd, 2002, 1:44pm
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.

Title: Re: state removal
Post by KT on Aug 30th, 2002, 5:14am
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.

Title: Re: state removal
Post by thelonious on Oct 22nd, 2002, 7:09pm
Of course you could just give Alaska to the Canadians in a supreme show of good will.

Title: Re: state removal
Post by Thomas on Nov 10th, 2002, 11:57am
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.  

Title: Re: state removal
Post by Thomas on Nov 10th, 2002, 11:59am
1/2 of maine would be in the new england state and the other half part of one of the canadian states.

Title: Re: state removal
Post by DBCooper on Apr 13th, 2003, 3:43pm
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.

Title: Re: state removal
Post by Phuoc on Jul 10th, 2003, 12:56pm
This one's easy.  Sell Louisiana back to France.

Phuoc
http://www.phuoc.com

Title: Re: state removal
Post by wowbagger on Jul 10th, 2003, 1:14pm

on 07/10/03 at 12:56:27, 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?

Title: Re: state removal
Post by Phuoc on Jul 10th, 2003, 1:49pm

on 07/10/03 at 13:14:19, 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  ;D.  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.

Title: Re: state removal
Post by Chewdogscp on Jul 10th, 2003, 8:48pm
Let's get rid of Canada!!!

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

Title: Re: state removal
Post by wowbagger on Jul 11th, 2003, 8:44am

on 07/10/03 at 13:49:16, Phuoc wrote:
Yes, but we were asked to only get rid of 1 state  ;D.

Exactly, but when you said "sell Louisiana back", I thought of the land called Louisiana at the time of the purchase.  :)
Does anybody know whether this became one huge state and got split afterwards or many states right from the start?


Quote:
As for a reason: This may improve American-French relations since they felt we screwed them in that purchase.

Well, at least le roi didn't feel so at the time. Actually, the French wanted to get rid of it all, whereas the then president of the U.S.A. initially hadn't planned to buy that much, as far as I remember.


Quote:
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.

That's why the U.S. bought it in the first place, right?  :D

Title: Re: state removal
Post by Icarus on Jul 13th, 2003, 12:37pm
The Louisiana Purchase was immediately split into much smaller, more easily governed territories. It was many years before any of these territories became full-fledged states. The only state to undergo a major change in its boundaries after it became a state was Virginia: When Virginia joined the Confederacy in the US Civil War, West Virginia split off of it and stayed in the Union as a new state. (Some minor boundary changes have occured in other states.)

Jefferson certainly knew a good deal when he saw one, but if France had asked for much more, they would have been turned down, as the purchase price already represented about as much as the fledgling US government could afford.

If some in France have decided since then that they got the short end of the deal, they certainly have no right to complain against us about it, since they were the ones to propose the sale in the first place! At the time, Louisiana represented a large territory that France did not have the ability to use in any significant fashion. Since they were badly in need of liquid assets at the time, selling it was to their advantage. To claim later that they were cheated would be ridiculous.

I have never heard of any significant feelings about this in France. I have heard that a similar charge is being raised in Russia about Alaska by a hate-mongering politician. The exact same statements about the Louisiana Purchase above also apply to the Alaska purchase, except that most people in the US at the time thought that Seward (Secretary of State under Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson) was an idiot for paying $7 million for a "frozen wasteland", and called it "Seward's Folly".

I expect that more sensible Russians will take this moron down.

Title: Re: state removal
Post by Dqwez on Mar 12th, 2004, 2:08pm
I'd say merge Tennessee with Nevada and retain gambling rules. TN can make some money out of it and not be in the south anymore


Title: Re: state removal
Post by grimbal on Apr 30th, 2004, 11:26am

on 07/30/02 at 17:21:57, Your name here wrote:
I think the correct answer to this riddle is "Why the hell would I want to remove a state?"


Yep.  That's what I would ask.  "Why?".  That's what you should ask first when starting a project.  "Why are we doing this".  And the best way to answer that question is to ask "What if we just forgot about this project, what would happen?"

If I am not told what is wrong with the current state of ... states and what is to be achieved by removing a state, I am likely to do it in a way that won't solve the underlying problem.  If you need to remove a state just for the sake of removing a state, make it as non-disturbing as possible.  Replace two states by one that is managed as 2 independent substates.

Title: Re: state removal
Post by checker on Feb 5th, 2007, 11:23pm
Why not split India ........ Kashmir wont to be sovergien???Dont tell this to any India,or else I would be under trouble ;D

Title: Re: state removal
Post by CowsRUs on Feb 8th, 2007, 4:18pm
I would merge every state with California... and then UC Berkeley would get confused  ;D

Title: Re: state removal
Post by Icarus on Feb 8th, 2007, 4:24pm
No thank you. The rest of us enjoy making fun of californians. We have no desire to join them!

Title: Re: state removal
Post by CowsRUs on Feb 8th, 2007, 4:25pm
Oh I see... we have too many border hoppers from Asia here...
btw:I'm Asian

Title: Re: state removal
Post by Grimbal on Feb 9th, 2007, 3:11am
I just realized you can remove a few states by just heating up the planet.

Title: Re: state removal
Post by Icarus on Feb 9th, 2007, 7:32pm

on 02/08/07 at 16:25:37, CowsRUs wrote:
Oh I see... we have too many border hoppers from Asia here...


???
Nah - It doesn't matter where Californians are from, we still like to make fun of them. Them and Texans - oh and New Yorkers, mustn't forget them. Also North Dakotans, Oklahomans, Floridians, Tennesseans, ... Actually, just about any place other than where we live and New Mexico - and we only leave them off because everyone knows it isn't really a state! ;)

Title: Re: state removal
Post by tiber13 on Jun 27th, 2007, 4:56pm

on 07/10/03 at 20:48:36, Chewdogscp wrote:
Let's get rid of Canada!!!

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

I hate you! Not funny!No good hockey players for you next NHL season

Just merge All the states, into the United States of ___. Canada is an awesome place, and no, we arent eskimos, or stuff like that.



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