Two solvers cracked the circuit: Ruth from
Manchester High School for Girls and Patrick from Woodbridge
School. Rather nicely, they found different solutions to the
problem. This raises the question: are there other
solutions?
Ruth : I came up with the
solution by considering the cases when each bulb lights. The right
bulb lights when there are at least 2 switches on. This means that
at least one pair of switches must be both on, so if you put each
pair into an 'AND' gate to get a pair with both on then combine
these with two 'OR' gates so that if any one of the 'AND' gates are
lit, the bulb is lit, the bulb then lights when at least two are
lit. The left bulb lights when either one or three switches are on.
All three switches being on is quite easy: put the first two into
an 'AND' gate and combine this with the third with another 'AND'
gate. To get when exactly one is lit use two 'XOR' gates connected
like the 'AND' gates. connect these two with an 'OR' gate into the
left bulb.

Patrick correctly realised that this
circuit is a 'binary adder' :

Patrick : The logic gates
represent a simple counting device for binary - each switch counts
for 1, the left light is the 1s column in binary, and the right
light is the 2s column in binary. Thus, if no switch is on, the
result is 0. If any one switch is on, the result is 1. If any two
switches are on, the result is 2, which in binary is 10. If all
three switches are on, the result is 3, which in binary is
11.

Ruth's and Patrick's solution circuits
are :

#### Rather nicely, Ruth also noticed that a
simpler circuit did the trick, and that some of the gates were
redundant. This was an excellent piece of logical
analysis!

"Another look at the circuit shows that we have 3 unecessary
gates: the 'AND' gates to give when 3 are on, and also the 'OR' to
combine this with the result of the 'XOR's, can be removed without
changing the output, as when all 3 are on the first 'XOR' is off,
so the second is on, as follows: