The Counterfeit Coin Problem Revisited

N Linial, M Tarsi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We find the optimal algorithm in the sense of average run time for the counterfeit coin problem: Given n coins, one of which is heavier or lighter than the rest. Using a balance scale, find the counterfeit coin and whether it is heavy or light. An interesting feature of the solution is that our algorithm is a straight line algorithm. We also find the optimal algorithm if a standard coin is available for the first weighing.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)409-415
Number of pages7
JournalSIAM Journal on Computing
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1982


  • Algorithms


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