## The Father's Will

There is a well-known story (the details vary) of a father who, when he died left his seven camels to his three sons in the following way: The eldest son was to receive one half of the camels, the middle son was to receive one fourth, and the youngest was to receive one eighth. This will disturbed the sons greatly, because it seemed to necessitate cutting some of the camels into pieces. The family's wise neighbor volunteered to solve the problem for them. He added one of his own camels to the herd, bringing the number up to eight. Then the eldest son received four, the middle son received two, and the youngest son received one camel. The wise neighbor then took back his camel, and everyone was happy. Kinda amazing, huh? Was this solution fair?

Answer: The solution is fair, but only because everyone was happy. The above clever solution does not actually fulfill the terms of the will. The terms of the will result in the following division of camels. The eldest son gets 3.5 camels, the middle one gets 1.75 camels, the youngest gets .875 camel, and nobody gets the remaining .875 camel. The neighbor's clever solution is just a way of dividing up the remaining .875 camel between the three brothers so that all of them get whole camels, instead of parts of a camel. The will did not say what to do with the extra .875 camel. Presumably it is fair to divide it among the sons, and not pay it as taxes or whatever.