A Mathematical Litmus Test: The Handshake Problem.

Broadly speaking, mathematics can be separated into two very broad categories:  algebra and analysis.  Mathematicians likewise fall into these categories.

Which type of person are you?  One possible litmus test concerns the handshake problem, which I was introduced to as an undergraduate.  The handshake problem is the following:

Every person in the world has a handshake number, which is the number of times they’ve shaken hands with someone else.  This handshake number is either odd or even.  Is the number of people with an odd handshake number even or odd?

I’ll let you think about the answer for awhile.



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