Enigmatic Code

Programming Enigma Puzzles

Enigma 1757: Power point

From New Scientist #2925, 13th July 2013 [link]

I have written a list of five different three-figure numbers, each of which is a power of a single digit. The first number is odd, and thereafter each number has the same hundreds digit or the same tens digit or the same units digit as its predecessor.

What, in order, are the five numbers?

This puzzle was republished as Enigma 1770.



5 responses to “Enigma 1757: Power point

  1. Jim Randell 10 July 2013 at 6:20 pm

    This is straightforward to solve. This Python program runs in 31ms.

    from itertools import count
    from enigma import irange, printf
    # collect powers of single digits that are 3-digit numbers
    powers = set()
    for d in irange(2, 9):
      for n in count(2):
        p = d ** n
        if p < 100: continue
        if p > 999: break
        printf("[{d}^{n} = {p}]")
    def solve(ps):
      # are we done?
      if len(ps) == 5:
        print(', '.join(ps))
        # extend the sequence with a new power that shares digits with the last
        for p in powers:
          if p not in ps and any(x == y for (x, y) in zip(p, ps[-1])):
            solve(ps + [p])
    # and p1 is odd
    for p1 in powers:
      if int(p1) % 2 > 0:

    Solution: The five numbers are 343, 243, 256, 216 and 512.

  2. Brian Gladman 10 July 2013 at 7:36 pm

    Pretty similar in structure to Jim’s version

    # find all three digit powers of single digit numbers
    vals = set(x ** n for x in range(2, 10) for n in range(2, 11)
               if 100 <= x ** n < 1000)
    # add a number to 'used' from 'unused' whilst ensuring that
    # consecutive numbers share a hundreds, tens or units digit
    def solve(used, unused):
      # if we have a list of five, yield it as a solution
      if len(used) == 5:
        # otherwise try to extend the list with each unused number
        for n in unused:
          # if it shares a hundreds, tens and units digit with last in list
          if any(str(used[-1])[i] == str(n)[i] for i in range(3)):
            # add this number to the list and try to add more
            yield from solve(used + [n], unused - set((n,)))
    # start with an odd number
    for i in vals:
      if i % 2:
        # and look for solutions
        for s in solve([i], vals - set((i,))):
  3. Naim Uygun 10 July 2013 at 7:56 pm

    Without writing a computer program, here is my list:
    343, 243, 256 216 512

  4. CnN 5 August 2013 at 12:15 pm

    The only discrepency I have with this solution is that the enigma specifies that proceeding numbers can have the same hundreth _or_ the same tens _or_ the same units.
    E.g. 343 couldn’t be followed by 243 (since the tens match _and_ the units match)
    By sticking to this stringently the puzzle is unsolvable though…

    • Jim Randell 5 August 2013 at 12:43 pm

      I agree that the puzzle could have been clearer on whether the “or” was “exclusive” or “inclusive”. But having studied logic and programming I was perfectly happy to use the standard inclusive meaning. And, as you point out, there are no solutions if you assume the exclusive meaning.

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