Puzzles & Quizzes

This Puzzle Asks You to Find the Best Size for a Soup Can

The optimal soup can puzzle is a fun mathematical exercise, but it also has real-world applications. People in manufacturing and packaging need to determine the lowest-cost way to manufacture products, which means using the smallest amount of material necessary.

Here's the Puzzle

Give it a try yourself in this problem from Presh Talwalkar of the MindYourDecisions YouTube channel:

You need a can that can hold volume V. Three can options all hold the same volume V: one is short and wide, one is equally tall as it is wide, and one is tall and narrow. Which can uses the least material? Watch the video below to learn how this problem is solved, or scroll down to get the answer.

The Optimal Cylinder Puzzle

Can you determine which is the best soup can size?


The optimal soup can for containing volume V is the can that is equally tall as it is wide. This can will use the least material. Watch the video above to learn the math used to arrive at this answer.

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Written by Curiosity Staff November 4, 2016

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