Monk Steps
Math brain teasers require computations to solve.
A monk has a very specific ritual for climbing up the steps to the temple. First he climbs up to the middle step and meditates for 1 minute. Then he climbs up 8 steps and faces east until he hears a bird singing. Then he walks down 12 steps and picks up a pebble. He takes one step up and tosses the pebble over his left shoulder. Now, he walks up the remaining steps three at a time which only takes him 9 paces. How many steps are there?
Answer
There are 49 steps.
He climbs halfway, which is step 25. He hears the bird singing on step 33. He picks up the pebble on the 21st step and tosses it on the 22nd step. The remaining 27 steps are taken three at a time which is 9 paces.
Hide
Comments
sparkplug
May 22, 2004
 It is not very hard : you just have to visualize the steps to find the answer, but I liked it. It is a fun one. 
jimbo
May 24, 2004
 It's not hard after you have been told the answer to verify that it works. How do you work it out?
The key is working backwards from the top step.
If he covers 27 (3x9) steps to reach the top he must have been 28 steps from the top. Thus before he stepped up one he was 29 from the top. Before he went down 12 he was 17 from the top. Before he went up 8 he was 25 from the top. This is the middle step  24 above it and 24 below it = 49 steps. 
doggyxp
Jun 23, 2004
 Yeah, I worked backwards to solve it. If you work forwards, it gets sort of complicated and confusing. Very well done. 
lucylizzy
Jun 23, 2004
 Got it! Great teaser! 
witness
Jun 23, 2004
 I liked it!
Vry tidy! 
shelleyz
Jun 23, 2004
 good one...but too much math in it 
O_wise_one
Jun 23, 2004
 I just figured he was on the middle step, then goin up 8 and down 12 puts him at 4 below middle. Then one step up. Then one set of three put's him back on the middle. So there's 24 ahead of him, and 24 behind. 49. Many ways to solve this teaser. (or, many algorithms) Anyway, good teaser! 
vbfreak55
Jun 24, 2004
 i didn't get it. too hard for me. 
solidross
Jul 01, 2004
 great math teaser.I liked it. 
pharast
Jul 07, 2004
 found a flaw...it says "he climbs up to the middle step" ...if there are 49 steps then the middle one would be the 24.5th step... 
canu
Jul 08, 2004
 There are 48 steps. The middle step is the 24th.
Look at it this way: if there are two steps, the second step is the top level, the 1st step is in the middle. There has to be an even number of steps from the starting level to the top level, for there to be a middle step. 
Therulerofthem
Jul 10, 2004
 Actually no there has to be an odd number of step to have a middle step, and the 25 would be the middle, so check your facts before trying to prove people wrong 
ched4r
Sep 19, 2004
 I counted it with this equation(mentally o course )
x = 0,5x + 0,5 + 8  12 + 1 + 3*9
Because there is a middle step, the number of steps is odd. 0,5x + 0,5 calculates the middle step
thus, examples:
total steps: 25
middle step: 0,5*25 + 0,5 = 13
total steps: 49
middle step: 0,5*49 + 0,5 = 25
x = 0,5x + 0,5 + 8  12 + 1 + 3*9
0,5x = 24,5
x = 49

ched4r
Sep 19, 2004
 Oh, and there was supposed to be spaces between lines in the above post, try to undestand 
tamjp
May 21, 2005
 Impressive teaser ( i came up with 50 ) and impressive comment ched4r 
tequila_roze
Jun 03, 2005
 ched4r, just outta curiosity, do you like write meth books or something?? 
tequila_roze
Jun 03, 2005
 .....that iz, "MATH" books.... 
kgripp
Jun 23, 2005
 i JUST DID IT BACKWARDS AND CAME UP WITH THE CORRECT ANSWER. gOOD PUZZLE. 
tinkerbell09
Jun 23, 2005
 WAY TOO MATHY 4 ME! 
pat56
Jun 23, 2005
 too hard for me.I'm not good at math. 
robinmckenzie
Jun 23, 2005
 I think there is some confusion over the counting of steps. If there were no steps, it would be flat ground. If there was one step, the ground has two levels, and there is no "middle step". If there are two steps, the ground has three levels, and the middle step is step 1 (counting the ground as step 0). From this we can see that there is only a middle step when the number of steps is ODD.
If you still don't believe this, try to picture 1 step, and think if there is a middle step:
_______________
____________
Then, picture two steps:
______________
_____
________
And you can see quite clearly that there is a middle step in this case (you wouldn't call this 3 steps, would you? If you would, the first picture must therefore show 2 steps, and 1 step would be flat ground)
I agree with Canu, and get the answer to be 48 steps. It would only be 49 steps if one (erroneously) counted the ground as being a step. 
robinmckenzie
Jun 23, 2005
 Sorry  text pictures got spoiled in the last post:
If you still don't believe this, try to picture 1 step, and think if there is a middle step:
_______________
___________ 
Then, picture two steps:
______________
_____
________
And you can see quite clearly that there is a middle step in this case (you wouldn't call this 3 steps, would you? If you would, the first picture must therefore show 2 steps, and 1 step would be flat ground) 
Magicbanker
Jun 23, 2005
 The ground is not a step. The ground is the ground. In order for there to be a middle step, there must by definition be an odd number of steps of at least 3.
Very good teaser. I didn't think to try to work backwards  that would have been a good hint. 
amanduh05
Jun 23, 2005
 way to much brain work needed!!!my brain hurts just thinking about it! but good one 
crzyness4lyfe
Jun 23, 2005
 i figured it out just like ched4r...i used x as the # of steps....great teaser..liked it....the whole monk thingy made it a lot more enjoyable...great job! 
Araldite
Jun 23, 2005
 Every time there's a teaser like this there's a discussion about odd or even number of steps. Those who said if there is a middle step then by definition there must be an odd number of steps are correct. If you remember this you'll have an easier time getting the right answer the next time you run accross one of these even if you don't want to beleive it. 
KTDidds
Jun 23, 2005
 I didn't use any math, I just drew a picture as I was reading the teaser, and that made it really easy. Starting with a line that indicated the middle, there ended up being 28 steps above it, so that meant there had to be 28 steps below it, with the middle line being the last step I counted. If you do it that way, there really is no question of whether there could be a middle step or not, there just is and you count it and move on. 
robinmckenzie
Jun 23, 2005
 If there must be an odd number of steps to have a middle step, then which step is the middle one when there is only one step?
___________""""""""""""""
If there are two steps, then the first step is clearly the middle step, since it is an equal distance from the top and the bottom:
_________""""""""""""""
The confusion lies, I think, in the fact that, as you said Magicbankerm the ground isn't counted as a step, but it IS treated as a boundary, just as the top step is. Therefore, when finding the centre (and do be careful not to misuse the phrase "by definition") we have to use the halfway point between top and bottom, as you can see from the second diagram above. The first step is midway between the top and bottom, and is therefore "the middle" step. 
JCDuncan
Jun 23, 2005
 I don't understand why anybody felt this was hard. If you can count backwards, you can solve it with simple arithmathic. It was good that the teaser started us on the middle step, or it would have been even more easy. 
Fasil
Jun 23, 2005
 robinmckenzie; you are misusing the words "middle step". What you are describing is the middle of the stairs, not the middle step. There is not a middle step when there are only one or two steps on a staircase. The idea is once you step up, you have taken one step. So the top is a step. The following picture (hope it works) is a representation showing that 2 is the middle step of 3 steps. Even though the top of step 2 is not directly in the middle of the stairs, it is the middle step.
_________
_3
_2
_1 
Sweetbabe
Jun 23, 2005
 Good one. 
KTDidds
Jun 23, 2005
 Okay I had to do this for myself...in my last post I put 28 and I meant to put 24  it was bothering me so I signed back on to correct it... Now everything is right with my world and I can go back to work.
Have a great day everyone. And thanks again for the teaser  if I even did say thank you in the first place. 
azushud
Jun 23, 2005
 is he walking or climbing 
je_russell
Jun 23, 2005
 From the midle step he walks up 24 stepsThat's just the math. From there the answer depends as to what one defines as the middle step. I recall that median is defined as the middle value: If there are 'n' objects arranged in order the median is defined as the value at (n+1)/2 position if n is odd and the average of the two middle values if n is even. If n = 49 yields a median of 25 and if n = 48 yields a median value ((24+25)/2) of 24.5. Since there can't be a a physical step at position 24.5 n would be 49. 
PCDguitar
Jun 23, 2005
 robinmckenzie u dont count the levels u coulnt the steps no one gives a **** if there are 3 levels there would have to be 3 steps for there to be a middle step so if there were two steps theres no middle step 
PCDguitar
Jun 23, 2005
 p.s. how are we supposed to know that he is climbing 3 steps!!!!!!!!!! that is stupid how can we get it right if we have no idea that the fatso priest is taking 3 steps in 1 pace!?!?!??!??!??!?! 
(user deleted)
Jun 23, 2005
 You know i am a bit confused.. not sure if 49 is correct or 48.
I went through the calculations as below. I sort of agree with 49 but cannot seen to go beyond 48.
Total = X steps
(x/2 +  12 + 1 + (3* 9) = X
(x/2 + + 16 = x
((x+16) + 32)/2 = x
x+16 + 32 = 2x
x + 48 = 2x
x = 48
So u see, this was very simple, but I am ending at 48 while I do agree with 49. What do y'll think ? 
Kukmiester
Jun 23, 2005
 I think you are all nuts... 
redneck_woman
Jun 23, 2005
 I must agree with Kukmeister. You all need to get a life and not ANALIZE things so much! 
Kinergy
Jun 23, 2005
 I got 48 steps just like nako, but then I have to agree that if there is a middle step then it must be odd numbered. I worked forward. When it says he covered 27 steps (9 x 3) and someone said 'Simple, it's 28 steps he covered' I don't get that. How does 27 steps equal 28 steps? 
DesertJules1974
Jun 23, 2005
 nako, you're on the right track, but to find the center (median) your formula is (x+1)/2 . . . not (x/2). That's probably why you ended up with an even number.
To have a middle, you have to have an equal number of items on either side of that middle. Therefore, you cannot have an even number when you are calculating with/from a middle point.
Great teaser! 
dudeman81
Jun 23, 2005
 You guys are spending way too much time on this one! 
FeaerFactorY666
Jun 23, 2005
 Too difficult for me.... 
neomajic
Jun 23, 2005
 This is simple algebra:
Number of steps up from middle
=======================
+27 (3*9) steps up
+1 step up
12 steps down
+8 steps up)
Don't forget the middle step
+1 the middle step
x=2(3*9+112++1
x=2(27+112++1
x=2(24)+1
x=49 
neomajic
Jun 23, 2005
 Hee, my equation got mangled by emoticons...
x=2(3*9+112+8 )+1
x=2(27+112+8 )+1
x=2(24)+1
x=49 
Trickster1992
Jun 23, 2005
 I have the most brilliant equation in the world.... Well, it used to be, at least. I think it still is. But I have the most brilliant equation!
= 2 
Trickster1992
Jun 23, 2005
 AND ANOTHER!
+ = 
skimela
Jun 23, 2005
 i agree with dudeman81
great teaser though, just simple math. i worked backwards and got it right away 
(user deleted)
Jun 23, 2005
 I liked it. It was simple if you worked it backwards. 
okieman51
Jun 23, 2005
 I missed it, but saw mistake when i worked it out looking at answer, I loved it however was real good. 
jennysugars
Jun 23, 2005
 Have you posted this somewhere else too? I've done this one before....but it wasn't here. 
teri12265
Jun 23, 2005
 There are only 5 steps, not 48, nor 49, just 5.
There are only 5 steps to HIS ROUTINE OF GOING UP!
Step 1  he climbs up and meditates,
Step 2  up 8 til the bird sings,
Step 3  walks down and gets pebble,
Step 4  up 1 and tosses pebble,
&
Step 5  takes remainder 3 at a time.
See, five steps. Right??? 
tequila_roze
Jun 23, 2005
 teri that was AAWWEESSOOMMEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 
canttakemyname
Jun 23, 2005
 BBOORRIINNGG! But I figured it out! Great teaser! 
luckybrown
Jun 27, 2005
 You guys debating 48 steps are nuts! The ground is the ground and a step is a step. Silly people. 
pinkgirl
Jun 29, 2005
 sorry i agree with the people who say 48 steps 
1CrazyBrunette
Jun 29, 2005
 I think too much thought is being put into this.
Just have fun with these! 
blonde_girl
Jul 02, 2005
 i had a lot of fun figuring it out! 
Jake
Apr 05, 2006
 I'm glad you liked it. 
mitzimesser
May 04, 2006
 I totally missed the "middle" step. I got 48 too..... 
lukeschett
Apr 14, 2007
 Confusing!!!! 
reptile5000
Jun 09, 2007
 teri, it would only be that if it was in trick category, lol 
4demo
Sep 08, 2007
 I got 48 steps: close enough but I'm still not sure where that last step comes in. Good teaser anyhow! 
Dontrelle
Dec 04, 2007
 You have to count in the middle step.
49, very tricky but I got it.
Great teaser. 
javaguru
Jan 03, 2009
 Where's the teaser? As I read the story I'm counting M+8, M4, M3, M+24. So 24 above the middle and 24 below plus the middle for 49. There should be at least some maththis should be in the logic category.
At any rate, too easy to be a teaser. 
Paladin
Mar 13, 2009
 Since there is a middle step, we must have an odd number of steps. The middle step would be (S+1)/2 where S = total number of steps, so:
(1/2 [S+1] + 8  12 + 1) + 9*3 = S
1/2 S  2.5 + 27 = S
1/2 S + 24.5 = S
24.5 = 1/2 S
S = 49 steps 
dalfamnest
Feb 25, 2010
 OK  draw 2 steps: ground, step, top landing ...
_______
________x_
__________________
If you told me to stand on the middle step, I know where I would stand! There i am (I hope) at the 'x'. To my thinking, 'middle step' requires an EVEN number steps, so the answer must be 48 steps! 
dalfamnest
Feb 25, 2010
 I think this illustrates the difference between maths and logic. Palladin correctly uses maths to solve an equation.
However, if logic is used, we cannot assume, as Javaguru (I think) incorrectly does, that there is an odd number. Logic must be built on correct assumptions. From my diagram above, we see that 'middle step' is a concept which, by normal use of language, requires an EVEN number of steps.
Maybe Javaguru is correct, then, that this is more logic than Maths! 
wordmama
Jul 11, 2010
 First of all, the yearslong discussion of 48 vs. 49 steps saddens me; the middle step must be a whole physical step added to the equal number up and down, not fractional, ergo 24+24+1=49. I admire all the people who either worked it backwards or by way of an algebraic formula; I seem to be the only one so far who's gotten the answer by trial and error (picking a # of steps and plugging in the monk's ritual!) As for the explanation, I have no idea where you got step 33 as a starting point!!! What did I miss? How were we supposed to know that?? Will someone please explain? Thank you. 
VitalStatistic
Jul 11, 2010
 Wading into the odd/even steps debate...
I mathematically calculated from the middle step that there were 24 above the starting point, therefore double that gives 48.
The difficulty is that an even number gives a middle number of treads with two ground levels, and an odd number gives a middle number of step faces.
______
5/__
4/__
3/__
2/__
1/________
______
4/__
3/__
2/__
1/________
My interpretation is that the even number (4 steps above) gives a step that is an even height from the upper ground and the lower ground. Therefore step 2 is in the middle, and the even number of steps theory is correct.
If you look at the case of the 5 step stairs above according to the 49 step proponents, if you want to climb up to the middle step you take 3 steps. Then you have a further 2 to get to the top. So that doesn't work. Let your fingers do the walking on the diagram above. "Walk" along the "ground" then take 3 steps up and then place your other finger(foot) on the third step as well. Then continue up the stairs, and you only take 2 more until you reach the top.
I guess you need to ask if you want to start in the middle, or if you want to start with the same number of steps above and below. 
VitalStatistic
Jul 11, 2010
 5 and 4 step staircases redrawn
______
......5/__
.........4/__
............3/__
...............2/__
..................1/________
______
......4/__
.........3/__
............2/__
...............1/________ 
gaylewolf
Jul 11, 2010
 This was a good puzzle, and a heck of a lot of thought put into it!
Gee, for that matter, a heck of a lot of thought put into the explanation comments!
For those of you who solved it, bravo! 
doehead
Jul 11, 2010
 49 steps and 6 years running, this one is wornout. 
bradon182001
Jul 11, 2010
 Needless to say, since I will admit I'm math challenged, and not particularly logical, I didn't get this right. I had more fun reading all the comments over the years. Thanks everybody for the fun reading. 
auntiesis
Jul 11, 2010
 Easy but fun. I worked from the middle step and got it in less than a minute. So much controversy over a simple problem. Steps are steps, ground is ground....not a step. 
Garnette
Jul 11, 2010
 When it cums 2 math, I am terrible!!!!!!!!!! Interestin teases!! 
emu77alu02
Jul 11, 2010
 I got 48, but I can't see what I did wrong though. 
theGaul
Jul 12, 2010
 How do you know that there are precisely 49 steps?
The conditions state that the last 9 paces are taken three steps at a time. However, the last pace may be one, two, or three steps, yet it must be taken in order to reach the top. Since you can't be sure of the number of steps in the last pace, how can you determine the total? 
avley07
Aug 02, 2011
 So you mean like 25 is the middle step and it's not counted when you count the step upwards and downwards? 
Babe
Jul 11, 2013
 I don't do math teasers so I don't care how many steps there are! 
HABS2933
Jul 11, 2013
 After 9 years, I think it is time to retire this teaser. I understand some people have not seen the older teasers and they are nice to have appear on occasion, but looking at the dates this has been Teaser of the Day on several occasions.
Why not let some of the newer teasers (not the brand new ones that sow up on the right of the screen) have a go at being T.O.T.D.?
IN the 3 years since this was last featured, there must have been at least 1 or 2 decent teases submitted, if not, what are we all doing here?
The teaser itself was great, challenging enough to not be obvious but not so hard it was impossible to solve. 
jaycr
Jul 11, 2013
 I'm with Babe on this one. 
cutebug
Jul 11, 2013
 Bravo to HABS for telling it like it is. 
gaylewolf
Jul 11, 2013
 I'm with Babe on this one  math teasers are far from being my favorites, but I also am kind of ashamed of myself to admit that! But thank you, HABS for your thoughtful comment  you always come through with something substantial like that! Hi Doehead and nice that you complimented HABS. Loved all the comments today! 
gaylewolf
Jul 11, 2013
 whoops, I think I goofed on my last comment! Sorry!! 
auntiesis
Jul 11, 2013
 Nobody will catch your goof. Still love math teasers, and they are always new to an old brain like mine. 
jaycr
Jul 11, 2013
 , never mind, it's old news . . . 
Back to Top
 
