July 14, 2005

Colin Powell and average age of Google employees

Simple Math Exercise (not asbestos or mesothelioma, of course ;-)
From todays WP article "Colin Powell to join top venture capital firm" http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8561665

"Powell said he was energized by a recent visit to the Mountain View, Calif., headquarters of search giant Google Inc., in which Kleiner Perkins also invested.

"When I walked into the cafeteria area [to give a speech], there were about 1,000 people there," Powell said in an interview. "And I think I increased the average age by about 15 years."

Powell said he also spoke with Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, discussing leadership, organization and "scaling up" a global business".


Well, 1,000 people and Mr. Powell guesses he increased the average age by about 15 years. We can check this out.

If Mr. Powell is 68, let A be the sum of ages of 1000 Google employees. Then, Powell's thought can be written down as the following equation

(A + 68)/1001 - A/1000 = 15

The solution to this simple equation is minus 14,947,000, that is, the average age would be minus 14,947 years. Bad news -- a negative average age ;-)

OK. Let's try to find how many employees can there be to satisfy the condition of "increasing the average age by 15".

Let X be the number of employees. Then we have the following equation:

(A + 68)/(X + 1) - A/X = 15.

We use reasonable condition A > 0. The solutions are X = 1 or 2 or 3. Not 1000. If X is even as large as 4, the average age will become negative again...

Good simple question for Google's recruiters :-)

And by the way. This simple problem has another modification - if there are 1000 people, what should be the age of 1001st person in order for him to increase the average age of the group by 15 years. The answer is...?
Posted 20 years, 7 months ago on July 14, 2005
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