Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/02/18/can-you-solve-the-hanging-ca.html

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# Can you solve the "Hanging Cable" problem, used as an Amazon interview question?

I don’t think I could do that using maths.

Since it is metric I prolly would, if’n I had to, build as scale model to centimeters at the interview desk out of stuff in my bag.

I answer that when Bezos pays his taxes, not before.

I was gonna say if Jeff B can’t answer it, then I don’t have to. His goons can take their 80m cable and stick it where the sun don’t shine.

# Roger That!

Would that be on the 3-day delivery, or tomorrow with the free Prime trial?

I gotta run to the door, my Amazon order just arrived, but I’m thinking that can get the same day delivery…

This is a problem I might have been able to solve right out of college with the catenary equations still in my head, but I’m hopeless today. All of those equations have long since faded from my memory from disuse.

To drive a delivery truck? Pack boxes in a warehouse? Drive Bezos to the dentist?

What Amazon job was this part of an interview for?

Presumably for their suspension bridge design division.

b) is a trivial answer. I’m interested to see what shortcut works for a)

The point being, who will identify that (b) is a trivial answer, and who will go through the exercise of calculating (b)

Turns out the trivial case was the one actually used in the interview, which makes sense given that the catenary equation is niche knowledge. At least in the video, there are no shortcuts for the non-trivial version.

The local library used to play a round of Pandemic with prospective applicants.

I would rather work for the library.

Trick questions are stupid and I think a poor way to interview. This is not a complex math problem. I had a similar simple math problem I would sometimes use, but involved no tricks like the zero distance poles.

Imagine you are on a round asteroid that is 100’ in diameter and for the sake of argument your eyes are 6’ from the ground, how far can you see around the asteroid.

Trick question. An asteroid that small has insufficient gravity to form into a round shape. Did I win?

Usually the point of these questions is about your methodology, rather than whether you get the answer.

Shucks. And I so wanted to use this line:

riddle

*You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means*

Same here…

Lost in time, like farts in a jaccuzzi.

So maybe Amazon is getting into the crane rigging business?