You have 12 balls with you out of which one ball is either lighter or heavier than the rest of the balls which are of the same weight. You have a weighing scale with you and are allowed to use it three times. How can you find out which ball is the odd one and also if it is lighter or heavier than the rest?

Number the balls 1 to 12. Weigh 1, 2, 3, and 4 against 5, 6, 7, and 8.

If (1, 2, 3, 4) and (5, 6, 7, 8) balance:

Weigh 9 and 10 against 11 and 8 (we know 8 is not the odd ball).

If (9, 10) and (11, 8) balance: then 12 is the odd one.

Weigh 12 against any other to find out if it is heavy or light.

If (9, 10) and (11, 8) do not balance: suppose 11 and 8 are heavier,

than 9 and 10; then either 11 is heavy, or 9 is light, or 10 is light.

Weigh 9 against 10; if they balance, 11 is heavy; if they do not,

the lighter of 9 and 10 is the odd ball.

(Similar argument if 11 and 8 are lighter than 9 and 10).

If (1, 2, 3, 4) and (5, 6, 7, 8) do not balance:

Suppose 5, 6, 7, and 8 are heavier than 1, 2, 3, & 4. Then: one of

(1, 2, 3, or 4) is light, or else one of (5, 6, 7, or 8) is heavy.

Weigh 1, 2, and 5 against 3, 6, and 9.

If they balance: then either 7 is heavy, or 8 is heavy, or 4 is light.

Weigh 7 against 8; if they balance, 4 is the odd ball, otherwise the

heavier of 7 and 8 is the odd ball.

If (1, 2, 5) and (3, 6, 9) do not balance: suppose 1, 2, and 5 are lighter

than 3, 6, and 9; then either 6 is heavy, or 1 is light, or 2 is light.

Weigh 1 against 2 to find out which one of the three choices is true.

Otherwise, suppose 1, 2, and 5 are heavier than 3, 6, and 9; then either 3

is light, or 5 is heavy.

Weigh 3 against (say) 2 to find out which of the two choices is true.

(Similar argument if 1, 2, and 5 are lighter than 3, 6, and 9).

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