The war game

This Riddler puzzle is about game theory… War or peace?

Two countries are eyeing each other’s gold. At the beginning of the game, the “strength” of each country’s army is drawn from a continuous uniform distribution and lies somewhere between 0 (very weak) and 1 (very strong). Each country knows its own strength but not that of its opponent. The countries observe their own strength and then simultaneously announce “peace” or “war.”

If both announce “peace,” then they each stay quietly in their own territory, with their own gold, which is worth \$1 trillion (so each “wins” \$1 trillion). If at least one announces “war,” then they go to war, and the country with the stronger army wins the other’s gold. (That is, the stronger country wins \$2 trillion, and the other wins \$0.)

What is the optimal strategy of each country (declaring “peace” or “war”) given its strength?

Extra credit: What if the countries don’t announce at the same time and instead one announces first and the other second? What if the value of winning the war were \$5 trillion rather than \$2 trillion?

Here is my solution for the first part, where both countries declare their intentions simultaneously.
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Here is my solution for the second part, where the countries declare their intentions sequentially.
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Baking the optimal cake

This Riddler puzzle asks about finding the maximum-volume shape subject to constraints.

A mathematician who has a birthday coming up asks his students to make him a cake. He is very particular and asks his students to make him a three-layer cake that fits under a hollow glass cone he has on his desk. He requires that the cake fill up the maximum amount of volume under the cone as possible and that the layers of the cake have straight vertical sides. What are the thicknesses of the three layers of the cake in terms of the height of the glass cone? What percentage of the cone’s volume does the cake fill?

Here is my solution.
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Here, I go into more detail about bounding the optimal cake volume as the number of layers becomes large.
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Can you outrun the angry ram?

The Riddler puzzle this week appears simple at first glance, but I promise you it’s not!

You, a hard-driving sheep farmer, are tucked into the southeast corner of your square, fenced-in sheep paddock. There are two gates equidistant from you: one at the southwest corner and one at the northeast corner. An angry, recalcitrant ram enters the paddock from the southwest gate and charges directly at you at a constant speed. You run — obviously! — at a constant speed along the eastern fence toward the northeast gate in an attempt to escape. The ram keeps charging, always directly at you.

How much faster than you does the ram have to run so that he catches you just as you reach the gate?

Here is a very simple solution by Hector Pefo. Minimal calculus required!
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And here is my solution, which finds an equation for the path of the ram but requires knowledge of calculus and differential equations.
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