River-Crossing Problems. Kristy Martin Dan Savage. Farmer, Goat, Beans, and Fox.
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Once upon a time a farmer went to market and purchased a fox, a goose, and a bag of beans. On his way home, the farmer came to the bank of a river and hired a boat. But in crossing the river by boat, the farmer could carry only himself and a single one of his purchases - the fox, the goose, or the bag of the beans.
If left alone, the fox would eat the goose, and the goose would eat the beans.
The farmer's challenge was to carry himself and his purchases to the far bank of the river, leaving each purchase intact. How did he do it?
In changing women to cannibals and men to missionaries, any solution to the jealous husbands problem will also become a solution to the missionaries and cannibals problem.
In the jealous husbands problem, no woman can be in the presence of another man unless her husband is also present. Also, there cannot be both women and men present on a bank with women outnumbering men.
There are only two possible sequences of moves that will accomplish the goal in the least number of steps. (The two solutions are essentially the same; the genders of the parents and children are switched from one to the other.)