Mike Paterson*, Uri Zwick

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


How far off the edge of the table can we reach by stacking n identical blocks of length 1? A classical solution achieves an overhang of 1/2H n, where Hn = ∑i=1n 1/i ∼ Inn is the nth harmonic number, by stacking all the blocks one on top of another with the ith block from the top displaced by 1/2i beyond the block below. This solution is widely believed to be optimal. We show that it is exponentially far from optimal by giving explicit constructions with an overhang of Ω(n1/3). We also prove some upper bounds on the overhang that can be achieved. The stability of a given stack of blocks corresponds to the feasibility of a linear program and so can be efficiently determined.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
StatePublished - 2006
EventSeventeenth Annual ACM-SIAM Symposium on Discrete Algorithms - Miami, FL, United States
Duration: 22 Jan 200624 Jan 2006


ConferenceSeventeenth Annual ACM-SIAM Symposium on Discrete Algorithms
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityMiami, FL


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