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Amazon Interview Question - How far apart are the poles?

This problem was given to future employees at Amazon during interview. There were bright people with degrees in math, physics, chemistry, engineering and so on.

Problem:

What is the length between the two poles if the hanging cable is 80 meters long, poles are 50 meters tall and the distance between the hanging cable and the ground is 10 meters?

Amazon Interview Question - Distance between poles

Most competitors failed; this was a timed question and they wasted their time finding the right equations just to get to a point where the problem is stuck.

Solution:

Now, let me tell you how simply you can solve this problem. Notice that the pole is 50 meters tall, but the distance from the cable to the ground is 10 meters! This means that the pole is 40 meters above the cable. If you think about it, the cable is then hanging directly downward! The whole cable is packed tight between the two poles and the distance between them is ZERO!

Distance between poles solution

Amazed? This was a simple thinking problem, only basic math was needed. Turns out Amazon wants people that think first, then go into solving problems, critical thinking was more valuable than trigonometry or any equation this time.

Go ahead and challenge your friends or anyone you know with this problem, you’ll have lots of fun seeing them struggle

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