Well done dad - you've covered some complex stuff in a fun and accessible way. Good skills.
If anyone else doubts why this is valid Hacker News, they may want to simply hand in their nerd card and do something else.
It's hacker news, not motivational team building shared insight news. I'd expect a GA solver which selected the four pieces which could be constructed into the tallest possible structure (with all the dirty tricks e.g. a boat hull attached to a wobbly assemblage of Giant Base/wing plates with a 12x24 brick balanced on the top), with a Speculation section positing possible future pieces which would allow an even taller structure (with plausible details of the sets & why they would need even longer pieces than those currently available).
Personally speaking, I have no idea what a GA solver is but my initial solution would involve putting all the pieces on top of each other with their longest edges aligned - that's the maximum. Then we look at the constraints: gravity is a bit of a bugger. etc etc
Keep your card and open your mind. You might be a bright lad but you can still learn to look at problems from a fresh angle. The OP's daughter is in safe hands as far as I can see - she'll learn critical thinking and that is a real gift.
BTW: what is a GA solver?
Longest axes aligned. Longest edges is not the maximum. The article's final solution uses a long axis rather than an edge.
Genetic Algorithm solver, I assume.
I don't recall the initial problem as stated precluding outside assistance.
My point stands: dad is pushing daughter to use the rather large brain that she has to solve a problem. Whether or not she becomes a Hacker as we know it does not matter - she is learning critical and analytical thought processes through this game.
That is one of the many gifts that any parent can bestow on their progeny and I'm impressed at his approach in this case. Society as a whole becomes a little richer as a whole through these little steps.
Coming from a family with a less money than average North Americans, this is an especially good lesson. For countries with enormous possibility, but few open paths to achievement, the value of this kind of ability in thinking can not be overstated.
More seriously, though -- I think problems like this can actually be more interesting than solutions. They get you thinking about what the solution might be. Lots of interesting work starts with a problem rather than a particular solution technique. That said, I'd be interested to see your GA solver solution, or any other solution someone can find!
The large thing between my ears beats the crap out of a GA thingie any day, provided that the problem is loosely defined 8)
That said it would probably work well enough for this problem.
Reminds me of an animated shortfilm I saw not too long ago but not that recently either.
There's this person that has a box full of questions and s/he encounters an elderly person that has "all the answers", and I'm not going to spoil the rest.
I just can't for the life of me remember what it was called and I can't find it with any web search I can think of either. Anyone know which one I'm thinking of?
Oh, advancement through self-education? There's practically zero pedagogic content on HN. Or in this submission! How did the father guide his daughter? Through examples & showing a restricted subset of the problem? By following the technique in How to Solve It & steadfast avoiding showing the student anything but patiently & gently reminding them of what they know & which skill to apply in each circumstance?
Enabling potential CS Majors to encounter technically-unencumbered problems is a great first step!
The problem & solution seemed trivial, not novel: tallest structure with _these four_ pieces (get them on their sides) vs. _any four_ pieces (hmm what is the longest piece, will it be stable on its side, can they be stacked, what will help them stack, etc.)
As an adult no one bats an eye if you play something like Cities: Skylines, minecraft or dwarf fortress. There's an army of adults playing FarmVille. So why not lego?
just the tops:
What have you done to me!? Can't stop.
This would make a great quiz night team challenge or corporate team-building activity.
Come to think of it this is an interesting game in the making, much better than most (or even all) games that lego makes:
Given x pieces from some set you get to take turns trying to make the highest combination, or, alternatively, all kids at a party are handed the same lego pieces and the winner gets some prize.
If it's not cheating to have parts not completely attached, you could maybe even balance the pink dot on top of the green cylinder for an extra 3-4mm.
I'd love for someone to beat this one.
Melt it down and recast it, duh. :)
For example, put the four Lego pieces on top of the Eiffel Tower, and you've now created a structure that is height "Eiffel Tower + Lego" - and it's made with those four pieces ('with', not 'only with' :) )
Well, we need the biggest bricks we can find, my mind went to the ship hulls:
So how can we connect 2 of these together, and make it stand vertical? Or can we?
It might be that we need the 3 pieces to make the brick stand... I'm not sure.
And then I clicked on the article...
(I'm not sure if I've even found the largest brick, or if I've found a 3 brick component; how do we define "brick"? Why do I care? Please comment and subscribe, it really helps ;)
Envy, I think that's the word for the weird vitriol in this thread.
Or three arches, two at the Stern for a base.
I bow to the master.
Edit: and as to how to get the pink one to stay, it was just some delicate balancing. And the pink one is tilted slightly toward the viewer/left, in other words aside from being (obviously) oriented diagonally, it's also not oriented straight up and down in the other axis. Managed to do it a few times for different attempts, as the first time the pip wasn't riding as high as it could be. The pip just stays on (barely) by friction, btw.
That one is 11.1 by my tape measure.
You could put them side-by-side.
Still amazed you got that to balance. I tried it (after seeing your picture) but gave up :)
You'd need to balance everything on the round piece, but the little pink dot should assist in that.
Kind of like those balanced rocks thing :)
In fact, it wouldn't strike me as an unreasonable interview question, using the physical pieces. Of course some people are better with spatial reasoning than others (and experience with Legos is another leg up) -- but using several simple, general-purpose questions along these lines almost feels like a FizzBuzz for any job where problem-solving is an important part.
I think this is an example of a very early set using this technique. But yes, this is possible and holds rigidly
It takes a really hardened individual to completely ignore the beauty of a father spending time with his daughter and building things with her in order to talk shit about Evan Williams and Medium.
It isn't just a question of the community upvoting it. Plenty of stories get plenty of upvotes yet still don't belong on HN—e.g. most sensational controversies.
Many HN users value the diversity of the stories that appear here and don't take well to comments that appear to want to narrow the site down. That might be why your question got flamed.
Of course opinions will always differ about any given submission, but that's the general approach.