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Monkeys and Bananas

Monkeys and Bananas

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Published by Jacob Richey

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Published by: Jacob Richey on Jun 06, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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09/08/2013

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Monkeys and Ladders
It is well known that monkeys like bananas. Suppose we have some (finite number of) ladders, and as many mon-keys. Each monkey is assigned a ladder, and at the top of each ladder there is a banana. Between the ladders, weconnect some (finitely many) ropes: each rope connects two ladders (though a rope could connect a ladder to itself).Each monkey begins climbing up his ladder, traversing a rope whenever he reaches one, and continuing to climb onthe ladder he ends up on. We won’t think of two ropes connecting at the same point: that is, monkeys never have tochoose which path to take. The question is: does each monkey get a banana?Below is an example of how this might go:
 A B D E  A B D E 
Before we prove that yes, each monkey does his own banana, we need to prove that something doesn’t go wrong:that each monkey reaches the top of 
some 
ladder, i.e. doesn’t get stuck in some infinite loop of ropes and ladders.
Lemma 1:
Each monkey reaches the top of some ladder.
Proof:
Suppose there were some monkey that didn’t reach the top of any ladder. That monkey must have traversedinfinitely many ropes, since if he traversed only finitely many ropes, then after traversing the last rope he would haveclimbed to the top of the ladder he ended up on. Since there are only finitely many ropes, he must have crossedsome rope
in the same direction 
infinitely many times (else only finitely many times in each direction
finitely many times total). Call this rope
 X 
(as in the diagram below), the ladder that our monkey met rope
 X 
on infinitely many times on ladder 1 (letting the direction he crossed it in infinitely many times be from right to left WLOG). To getback to rope
 X 
after the first time, some rope must have taken us to some point below rope
 X 
on ladder 1: call thisrope
. In partiular, rope
should be the rope he crossed just before crossing rope
 X 
, i.e., there are no other ropescoming from ladder 1 between ropes
and
 X 
. (Note that ropes
 X 
and
could be the same rope: this isn’t the casein the diagram, but our argument still works.) Now, a question arises: how did we get to rope
 X 
the very first time?It can’t have been from some point below 
 y 
, since then we would have crossed rope
beforecrossing 
 X 
. And it 

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