School-Safe Puzzle Games

Burning Rope Logic Puzzle, Difficult

burning rope, burning fuse puzze

This question has actually been asked at job interviews (Microsoft, for example) and on math final exams in college.

It’s fairly difficult.

There are two lengths of rope.
Each one can burn in exactly one hour.
They are not necessarily of the same length or width as each other.
They also are not of uniform width (may be wider in middle than on the end), thus burning half of the rope is not necessarily 1/2 hour.

By burning the ropes, how do you measure exactly 45 minutes worth of time?

Feel free to post your answer in the comments section. Don’t look, though, until you really give it a try!

13 Comments to “Burning Rope Logic Puzzle, Difficult”

  1. Josh | Guest

    I would light both ends of one rope and one end of the second rope. In 30 min, the first rope will be consumed entirely and 30 min worth of the second rope will be consumed. At the moment the first rope is completely burned, I would light the other (no burning) end of the second rope. 15 min later, the second rope would be consumed entirely in a total of 45 min.

  2. Lee | Guest

    Light rope A at both ends, and light rope B at one end.

    When rope A burns out, it’s been half an hour, since it’s burning at both ends. When that happens, light the other end of rope B. It will take 15 minutes for the remainder of that rope to burn, totaling 45 minutes.

  3. Vishvas Vasuki | Guest

    Burn rope 1 from both ends, and rope 2 from one end.
    At the end of 1/2 hour, rope 1 is no more.
    Immediately, start burning rope 2 from the other end as well.
    When rope 2 has completely burnt, 45 minutes have elapsed.

    -Vishvas Vasuki

  4. tramminator | Guest

    Light the first rope at both ends to create two flame fronts (burns at twice the consumption rate so it should be done in 30 minutes). At the end of the first rope burn light the second rope at both ends and in the middle. This second rope will now have 4 flame fronts and consume the second rope in half the time as the first rope (15 minutes) when the second rope is gone you should be at your 45 minute point.

  5. Antonio Bologna | Guest

    Is all about change, calculate the change of the rope by means of derivative.

  6. Little Money | Guest

    this one is very difficult….

  7. luis | Guest

    Bring a stopwatch.

  8. Jim Lutz | Guest

    Use a watch

  9. padma | Profile

    Arrange the ropes in the form of a ‘plus’ symbol (‘+’;), so that the mid points of the ropes meet. Now the ‘+’ got 4 points,
    1. Burn 3 points at a time
    2. After 30 mins, all the 3 points gets burnt out and burns towards 4th point
    3. Immediately burn the 4th point, it takes 15 mins.
    So the entire time taken to burn 2 ropes comes to 45 mins.

  10. padma | Profile

    Even better solution would be, arrange the ropes in the form of a ‘T’ symbol and burn the 3 ends. It takes 45 mins to burn :)

  11. axiom | Profile

    I doubt this question has ever been asked on a college math exam. Apart from anything else, the solution cannot be derived solely from the stated property (“Each one can burn in exactly one hour”;) of the ropes, but depends on an additional physical assumption.

  12. jporter892 | Profile

    I found a great answer to the problem here – love this puzzle by the way:


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