Where Is Crypto, the Magic Dog, When You Need Him?
Entry into a building is controlled by a combination lock. You know the following:
For example, 1-2-4 is a legitimate three element code, entered by three consecutive button presses. Also, 25-3 (or 52-3) is a legitimate code that must be entered by pressing the 2 and 5 keys at the same time.
- You enter combinations using a pad of buttons numbered 1 through 9
- The code for opening the entry door can be 2, 3, 4, or 5 elements in length
- Each element can be one digit (1-9), two digits, three digits, or four digits which must be entered simultaneously by depressing multiple buttons
- A digit can occur only once in the code
An example of a illegimate code is 145 because it has only one element. Also, 42-31-4 is not valid because the digit 4 is repeated.
Question:Suppose you are locked out but can enter a possible code every ten seconds. In the worst case possible, how long would it take for you to press the correct code and gain entry?
Source: Adaptation of Sue McGraw's "Lock Combination," CMC Communicator, Vol. 17#3, p. 39
Hint: Try a simpler problem...suppose the keypad has only the digits 1-5, etc.
Solution Commentary: Sorry....no solution, as I am in the midst of still entering combinations!