• Associate Sponsor

Proved: The more you know, the less you earn

This week, Problematics explores the field of jobs and uncovers a bitter truth.

Written by Kabir Firaque | New Delhi | Updated: July 23, 2015 1:03 am
An unconventional crossword with employment as theme. For the clues, scroll down to the middle of this blog. (Source: Express Illustration)

Suppose you have a colleague who knows a lot less than you do. Both of you, however, work equally hard. Which one of you gets the higher salary?

Your colleague does, of course. When two employees put in the same amount of work, the higher salary must go to the one with less knowledge. This is an established fact backed by hard mathematical evidence. Here is the proof, courtesy Ian Stewart, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics, University of Warwick, UK.

• Knowledge is power

• Time is money

But, by definition

• Power = work/time


• Time = work/power

which implies that

• Money = work/knowledge


• For a fixed amount of work, the more you know, the less money you get.

My sincere thanks to Professor Stewart for giving me permission to share with you his jokes and snippets, as long as I credit my source. The above “proof” appears in ‘Professor Stewart’s Hoard of Mathematical Treasures’, published by Profile Books and distributed in India by Viva Books.

Both your puzzles this week will use this “mathematical” finding as a basic premise. While creating the first puzzle, I have also used the principles of a popular kind of logical puzzle, and tried to keep it neither too easy nor too hard.

• Mr Xylographer, Mr Yardmaster and Mr Zincographer work in the same office. One of them is in Accounts, another is in Personnel and the third is in PR, though not necessarily in that order.

• Their wives work in separate offices, each earning a thousand. That is to say, one of the women earns Rs 1,000 a day, another earns $1,000 a week and the third earns £1,000 a month.

• Although the pound is of higher value than the dollar, bear in mind that $1,000/week is higher than £1,000/month at current exchange rates. Mrs Xylographer is the lucky woman who earns in dollars per week, simply because she happens to be the least knowledgeable of the three women.

• The most knowledgeable one is in hospital. She broke a leg while trying to board a bus yesterday evening.

• The woman who earns in pounds per month is married to the PRO.

• Mr Zincographer has accused the Accountant of making unnecessary deductions from his salary, which the Accountant insists are justified.

• To make sure I had got my facts right, I called Mrs Yardmaster today morning. She was in the gym and couldn’t be disturbed.

Puzzle#20A: Which husband works in which department, and which wife earns how much?

Puzzle#20B: Solve the crossword on top of this page. There may be more than one set of possible solutions. If you feel these clues are not enough, please demand more. My email appears at its usual slot at the bottom of this blog.

1 & 5 Down; 4 & 7 Across: What you have more than your colleague does

2, 6, 7 & 10 Down: What your colleague gets/has more than you do

3 Down; 8, 9 & 11 Across: What you and your colleague put into your jobs in equal measure

12 Across: The theme of your crossword

What you wrote

While playing Tennis in Wonderland with Lewis Carroll last week, we had one mathematical puzzle and three quiz questions. Here are your answers.

Dear Mr Kabir, for Puzzle#19A, I am getting a very simple solution. Either I am correct and the problem is simple, or I have made a big mistake. I assume that the 2nd best guy is drawn into any of the first 64 places. Now, the best player can be anywhere in the remaining 127 places. If he too is in the first 64 places (63 open places apart from No. 2 player), then he will beat No. 2 and someone else will get win second prize. If he is in the remaining 64 places, then he will beat the No. 2 only in the final. So, the probability of the 2nd best guy getting 2nd position is equal to the probability of the top player being placed in the opposite group. It is 64/127.

Sampath Kumar V (IIM Kozhikode alumnus)

In Puzzle#19B(i) the player is Andre Agassi, the singer is Barbra Streisand, the actress is Brooke Shields, the wife is Steffi Graf, the defeated tennis player is Goran Ivanisevic.
Sanjay Gupta (New Delhi)

For Puzzle#19B(ii), the answer is Monica Seles. Stabbed by Steffi Graf’s fan Günter Parche.
M Natrajan (IIM Calcutta, batch of 2009)

Dear Kabir, in Puzle#19B(iii) [she lost a Wimbledon final and wept of the shoulder of royalty], player: Jana Novotná; royalty: Katharine, Duchess of Kent.
Phani Bhushan Tholeti (Synaptics biometrics division, Hyderabad)

Solved all four puzzles: Sampath Kumar V, M Natrajan, Phani Bhushan Tholeti
Answered three questions: Sanjay Gupta, Deepak Sachan, Anindita Basu (IBM India, Allahabad)
Got two correct: Sathya Prakash (New Jersey)

Please mail your replies to:

For all the latest Blogs News, download Indian Express App

  1. Mohammad Bin Tughlaq
    Jul 22, 2015 at 8:12 pm
    I could not make head or tail of all these arguments. But one plain fact. In India in many jobs more qualified people are appointed. In the highly paid software field they insist that the worker should have a degree in engineering or MCA. But what the work involved in many cases are something Higher Secondary ped one can do with some training. So the knowledge and earning does not match each other. For the post of an LDC many MA degree holders too apply while the minimum qualification needed is only SSLC p with a certificate in typing proficiency. So in many cases pay need not be commensurate with qualification.