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Puzzle: How many unlock paths?

I was recently at dinner with some Linux kernel hackers who were showing off their smartphones. These phones have an interesting unlock mechanism: the phone displays an 3-by-3 array of circles, and the user traces out a path among the circles. If the path is correct, the phone unlocks.

The paths are not arbitrary. From what I could see, here are the rules governing them:

  1. Paths are composed of a series of straight line segments.
  2. Each line segment connects a pair of circles.
  3. If the preceding line segment arrived at a given circle, then the next line segment must leave that same circle.
  4. A given circle may be visited only once.
  5. A line segment may pass over a given circle without visiting it only if that circle has already been visited. (Attempting to pass over a not-yet-visited circle will instead visit that circle.)

How many unique paths are there?



Aug. 4th, 2011 03:27 pm (UTC)
Re: Rule 1?
The photo shown at that URL looks to me like a series of straight line segments.