- 02 Feb '07 14:50An elderly farmer died and left 17 cows to his three sons. In his will, the farmer stated that his oldest son should get 1/2, his middle son should get 1/3, and his youngest son should get 1/9 of all the cows. The sons, who did not want to end up with "half cows", sat for days trying to figure out how many cows each of them should get.

One day, their neighbour came by to see how they were doing after their father's death. The three sons told him their problem. After thinking for a while, the neighbour said: "I'll be right back!" He went away, and when he returned, the three sons could divide the cows according to their father's will, and in such a way that each of them got a whole number of cows.

**What was the neighbour's solution?**

- 02 Feb '07 17:16Presumably, he wanted to give all of his cows to his sons. But his fractions do not add up to 1.

The simplest way to do it would be to give out the cows as though there were 18, even though there are only 17! Then the cows are divided as:

Oldest Son: 9

Middle Son: 6

Youngest Son: 2

For a total of 17 cows given away out of the imagined 18-cow herd.

The solution came to me when I was on a train of thought involving how they'd split 9 cows, and realizing they only had 8.5 cow shares between them.

I - 02 Feb '07 17:31When my father died he had 5 dogs.

In his will he wrote that I would have one third of the dogs, my sister would have one half of the dogs.

But me and my sister wouldn't kill any of the dogs so we asked our neighbour how to do. He suggested a solution how to divide the five dogs so I could have one third of them and my sister one half of them without killing a single dog.

How did we do it?