Tag Archives: engineer

Engineer vs. Mathematician

A thought-provoking short story narrated by my professor in class:

An engineer and a mathematician were asked a question:
“Given a stove, lighter, water and an empty vessel, how would you make hot water?

Both, the engineer and the mathematician gave the same answer:

  1. Fill the vessel with water
  2. Light the stove
  3. Place the vessel on the stove and allow it to heat.

Now the question was slightly twisted:
“The stove is already lighted and the vessel already contains water. Now, how would you make hot water?

The engineer answered, “This is dumb. Just place the vessel on the stove and allow it to heat.”

The mathematician answered:

  1. Empty the vessel by pouring the water out.
  2. Switch off the stove.
  3. Now the problem is reduced to a sub-problem, the solution to which was previously calculated.

Now, are you an engineer or a mathematician ???