Dido's Problem



Smart Joe

Fuzzy Logic



A long time ago, about three hundred years after the great city of Troy found its ruin, a young woman with the name of Dido had to flee from her homeland, Phoenicia. Her tyrant brother had killed her wealthy husband and was after her riches now. With several boats full of belongings and many people fleeing with her, she sailed away and reached the coast of Africa. The natives there weren't too happy about the newcomers, but Dido was able to make a deal with their king: she promised him a fair amount of money for as much land as she could mark out with a bull's skin.

The king thought he was getting the better end of the deal, but he soon noticed that the woman he was dealing with was smarter than he had expected. Dido took her bull skin and cut it into thin strips which she sewed together into one long string. She then took the seashore as one edge for her piece of land and laid the skin into a half-circle. Like this she got a much bigger piece of land than the king had thought possible, on which she founded the city of Carthage.

The king was very impressed by her great mathematical talents and asked her to marry him. She refused, so he then had a huge university built where anyone could study, hoping to find another young lady with Dido's talents instead. Needless to say, this was impossible, and if the king hasn't died yet, I'm sure he's still searching.