Google Billboard Puzzle

Google Billboard Puzzle

Have you seen this billboard before? No? Yeah, me neither, but to be fair that billboard was placed in “Highway 101” in the heart of Silicon Valley, United States in 2004 and during that time I was still in high school… in a Latin American country, so no visa obviously ಥ_ಥ

I was browsing the Internet the other day and found this post from 2008 with the first 10,000 digits of the Euler’s Number, e followed by this article with a basic — brute-force approach — solution to the puzzle that was part of a campaign to recruit engineers to work at Google.

If we remember what we learned in high school we have that e is a mathematical constant being the base of the natural logarithms. It is (approximately) equal to 2.71828, and is the limit of (1 + 1/n)n as n approaches infinity.

e = 2.71828 18284 59045 23536 02874 71352 66249...

The first ten-digit number to the right of the decimal point, 7182818284, can’t be a prime number because it ends in an even number and so is divisible by 2, and possibly other numbers, too. The next ten-digit number, 1828182845, ends in 5: divisible by, at the least, 5. But eventually, there will be a prime among them.

For a few weeks after the appearance of the puzzle “” was the URL for a web site that invited those who got there to solve another puzzle, and then the answer to that puzzle was the password to enter yet another website which was an invitation to send in a CV and further explore the possibility of working for Google. A person who can solve those puzzles is a person of interest to Google.

Interesting nonetheless, Google among other big IT companies have always used these clever job posts to bring fresh semi-(or real?)-geniuses to their engineering team. I remember a month ago when they launched a similar campaign using their search engine. If you were searching for information about Python — the programming language obviously, or who knows — and were logged in your Google account, they would display a special interface that would serve as a starting point for an recruitment process. The process was discussed here and one of the participants that was offered a position explained part of the interview here.

Working at Google — or Facebook, Apple, Tencent, etc — must be like a dream for many developers, but as you can see the expectations are not that high that you can’t get even an offer, the story is different once you are inside and experience by yourself how is to work there. Some people have quit after a year or so to launch their own companies, which gives the impression that the best time to land in one of these companies is during your internship because you have fresh information about algorithms and data structures that will help you pass the tedious interview process and eventually get the job, if your skills are as or more rusty than mine taking a couple of weeks re-studying these concepts will greatly increase your chances to pass, but what I have seen is that you are either an awesome super engineering student or a mega-hyper genius in your field of work, whatever the case, and if you still want to try…

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