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Is It Possible to Be 15% Swedish?

This question came up as a joke during a team standup a few months ago. Although the obvious answer is “no,” if you’re willing to play fast and loose with your metaphysics for a bit, the answer can be “yes” and there’s a cute solution that ties together binary numbers and binary trees. This post itself is a bit of a joke in that it’s just for fun, but it might be nice to see the familiar concepts of binary numbers and binary trees in a new light.

The obvious answer is “no”

Let’s quickly see why the real life answer is “no.” But first we should lay out the assumptions implicit in the problem. We’re going to assume that at some point in time, everyone was either entirely Swedish or entirely non-Swedish. There’s a chicken-and-egg problem that we’re sweeping under the rug here, but that’s what rugs are for. Next we’re assuming that every person after that point in time has their Swedishness wholly and equally determined by their parents Swedishness. So if mom is 17% Swedish and dad is 66% Swedish, then baby is ½ x 17% + ½ x 66% = 41.5% Swedish.

Read on at my blog (since these blogs don’t support MathJax) →

  1. Why wasn’t I included in this discussion? I am the local authority on Swedishness after all ;)

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