A farmer died leaving his 17 horses to his three sons.

When his sons opened the will it read:

My eldest son should get 1/2 (half) of total horses; my middle son should be given 1/3 (one third) of the total horses; my youngest son should be given 1/9 (one ninth) of the total horses.

As it’s impossible to divide 17 by two or 17 by 3 or 17 by 9, the three sons started to fight with each other.

Eventually, they decided to go to a farmer nearby who they considered quite smart, to see if he could work it out for them.

The farmer read the will patiently, after giving due thought, he brought one of his own horses over and added it to the 17. That increased the total to 18 horses.

Now, he divided the horses according to their fathers will.

Half of 18 = 9. So, he gave the eldest son 9 horses.

1/3 of 18 = 6. So, he gave the middle son 6 horses.

1/9 of 18 = 2. So, he gave the youngest son 2 horses.

Now add up how many horses they have:

>>>>>> Eldest son 9

>>>>>> Middle son 6

>>>>>> Youngest son 2

>>>>>> Total is 17

Now this leaves one horse over, so the farmer takes his horse back to his farm.

Problem Solved!

Moral: The attitude of negotiation and problem solving is to find the “18th horse” i.e. the common ground. When this is done, the issue is more easily resolved. It is difficult at times but worth it in the end.

Now, that’s what we call clever Mathematics.

by Kirk Clarke

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