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[personal profile] simont Fri 2014-02-21 09:03
Yes, the non-integer answer was startling to me too, and is really what made the problem stick in my head rather than falling out again shortly after it occurred to me.

The resulting (wlog) 14 pieces must be assembled into five 7-sticks so one 7-stick must get at most two pieces. One of these must be at least 3.5 long.

Oh yes, that's a nice approach to proving optimality. Thank you!
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