My attempt at Question 6 from the Haselbauer-Dickheiser Test

The Haselbauer-Dickheiser Test can be found at

In this blog post, I will study Question 6 from this test.

The question is about physicists’ names as strings. Particularly, each alphabet letter is assigned a number and we have to find which number each letter has assigned to it, given the sums of strings, where each string is the surname of a famous physicist.

Below I present the original question for your convenience:

Please do not read the rest of this article, if you want to attempt to solve this question on your own. The rest of this article describes my attempt at solving this question and you should not read it, unless you want to or you do not mind coming across relevant ideas, spoilers, hints, solutions, and strong opinions concerning this test.

You have been warned and I now consider that you continue to read knowing that what you come across for the rest of this article may forever spoil things for you and/or present strong opinions against this test.

Last warning: please do not read this blog post, unless you are certain that you know what you are doing. If you are not sure, then it would be best if you stopped reading at this point.

OK. If you are here, it means that you want to know my opinion. Well, ok then!

To cut a long story short, my opinion is that the test is highly inappropriate. In this blog post, I will focus on the study of question 6.

I have not solved this question, but I promise you, dear reader, that if you bare with me, I will make this blog post worthwhile for you to read and I will provide interesting information about this question.

This is a question that is really hideous and I am against it. It is a very inappropriate question. The question makes you think that you need  to solve a system of linear equations and this is true to some extent. But if you look carefully, FEYNMAN has the letter Y in his name, and the letter Y does not appear anywhere else in the names given. What is worse, the same happens for the letters J, Q, X. Thus, four letters (J,Q,X,Y) do not appear in the 25 names for which we are given the sum of the letters that comprise them.

So, the question is about finding the value of each letter, but the value cannot be solely derived from the sums. We also have to guess. And this is what makes this question inappropriate.

First of all, we have 25 equations with 22 unknowns. The 25 equations are the following:


And the 22 unknowns are the following:


Please note that the letters j, q, x, y are missing.

I pasted the 25 equations and the 22 unknowns in a form on the site Specifically, I used the Equations -> Solve -> Advanced page as shown below:

Immediately the site produced the following three images. The first image contains the 25 equations:

The second image contains the 22 unknowns:

The third image contains the solution to this system of linear equations:

Below I present the above image in text form, in case you need to copy it.

a = 6
b = 11
c = 20
d = 24
e = 7
f = 16
g = 12
h = 5
i = 9
k = 13
l = 21
m = 2
n = 22
o = 8
p = 14
r = 23
s = 15
t = 3
u = 10
v = 4
w = 17
z = 18

Below you can see how I used Excel to check the validity of the results. The results are correct. The value for FEYNMAN is calculated by setting Y=0, since we do not obtain its value from solving the system of linear equations.

Below you can see the results listed in Excel, first sorted by letter and then sorted by number.

Below are the same results, in text form, should you need to copy them.

? M T V H A E O I U B G K P S F W Z ? C L N R D ? ?

06 11 20 24 07 16 12 05 09 ? 13 21 02 22 08 14 ? 23 15 03 10 04 17 ? ? 18

We can see that solving the system of linear equations gives us the values of 22 letters of the alphabet, and we miss the values for the letters j, q, x, y. If we assume that each letter is assigned a different value from 1 to 26, then the missing numbers are 1, 19, 25, 26. The previous assumption, that each latter is assigned a different value from 1 to 26, should be valid.

But what are the values of the missing letters j,q,x,y? Which is 1, which is 19, which is 25 and which is 26?

I do not know. We have to guess. We can either consider the pattern of the letters (sorted by their corresponding number) ? M T V H A E O I U B G K P S F W Z ? C L N R D ? ?, the pattern of the numbers (sorted by their corresponding letter) 6 11 20 24 07 16 12 05 09 ? 13 21 02 22 08 14 ? 23 15 03 10 04 17 ? ? 18, or the relationship between each letter and its corrsesponding number. Any pattern that might be found, might be the pattern that was used for the assignments. Another psossibility might be that a clever hash function was used, a function that provides a rearrangement of the numbers from 1 to 26.

Anything goes. But to assume is not a mature thing to ask from someone. Actually, I believe that most people who solved this question gamed the system. They did not really find the pattern of number assignment and instead tried all four possibilities, one by one, to see which one the system accepted as correct. And if they were ever asked how come they proposed their solution, they would just say the truth, or they would just provide a tongue-in-cheek answer that they would know that it would be deemed incorrect.

So the four possibilities are:
Y=1 => FEYNMAN = 75 + 1 = 76.
Y=19 => FEYNMAN = 75 + 19 = 94.
Y=25 => FEYNMAN = 75 + 25 = 100.
Y=26 => FEYNMAN = 75 + 26 = 101.

I believe that the whole point of this question is for us to find the pattern that was used for the assigment of numbers to the alphabet letters. This is why I skimmed throught the solution of the system of linear equations. Indeed one may spend time and reduce the system of the 25 equations to smaller systems and find clever ways to solve it. Or one may solve it manually. Or one may create a program that solves it. But this is not what the question is about. The question is about guessing the value of the letter Y after we have found the values of the 22 letters. And, to me, this is an inappropriate thing to ask.

About Dimitrios Kalemis

I am a systems engineer specializing in Microsoft products and technologies. I am also an author. Please visit my blog to see the blog posts I have written, the books I have written and the applications I have created. I definitely recommend my blog posts under the category "Management", all my books and all my applications. I believe that you will find them interesting and useful. I am in the process of writing more blog posts and books, so please visit my blog from time to time to see what I come up with next. I am also active on other sites; links to those you can find in the "About me" page of my blog.
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