The game is played for two prizes. The actual price of the first prize is shown to the studio and home audiences. After the contestant gives their first bid, a 30 second clock is started and the host tells the contestant whether the actual price is higher or lower than the bid. The contestant continues to bid, responding to the host’s clues, until either the contestant wins by correctly guessing the price of the prize or the time expires. If time remains after the first prize is won, the process is repeated for the second prize.…With few exceptions, only prizes valued below $1,000 have traditionally been offered in the Clock Game.
The algorithm to use is simple:
- Pick a ceiling ($1000) and a floor ($0)
- Bid the average ($500)
- If the bid is too low, the bid becomes the floor
- If the bid is too high, the bid becomes the ceiling
Being computer types, we’ll put the ceiling at $1024. For a $407-priced prize, your guesses would look like this:
Ten guesses, and you’ve won a washing machine. Here are the formulas that make this work.
- D1: = 407 (the unknown price)
- C3: = 0 (the initial floor)
- F3: = 1024 (the initial ceiling)
- D3: = (C3+F3)/2 (512—the initial bid)
- E3: = IF(D3=$D$1,”Stop”,IF(D3>$D$1,”Too High”,”Too Low”)) (the host’s clues)
- C4: = IF(E3=”Stop”,””,IF(E3=”Too Low”,D3,C3))
- D4: = IF(E3=”Stop”,””,(C4+F4)/2)
- E4: = IF(D4=$D$1,”Stop”,IF(D4>$D$1,”Too High”,”Too Low”))
- F4: = IF(E3=”Stop”,””,IF(E3=”Too High”,D3,F3))
Watch out for “curly quotes” if you copy and paste in. Filldown C4:F13. So what’s the point? We knew the “unknown price” going in. Here’s a recent prospective employee question the BBC got from Qualcomm:
Given 20 ‘destructible’ light bulbs (which break at a certain height), and a building with 100 floors, how do you determine the height the light bulbs break?
You watch The Price is Right or you read DDoE, and you think “Clock Game!” In 20 bulbs, if they break from a 407.407 foot drop, and a floor = 10 feet:
You’re 2-ten-thousandths of a foot off. You get the job, a great way to start the new year.