Do you have what it takes to be a data scientist?

Experian launches ‘hard data’ puzzles to encourage more people to pursue careers in data science.

UK, June 23, 2023: The UK’s problem solving skills are being put to the test after being challenged to a series of ‘hard data’ puzzles by global information services company, Experian.

With the UK government suggesting up to 234,000 roles requiring hard data skills will be needed for UK companies1, the challenge aims to encourage more people to consider careers working in data science.

Each puzzle has been designed to test some of the core skills employers generally look for in data-specific roles such as data analysts, data scientists and data engineers.

Can you solve the puzzles?

Jonathan Westley, Chief Data Officer at Experian, said: “This challenge is a great indicator of the extent to which someone’s brain is geared towards solving data problems. We’ve designed it so that anyone puzzles can have a go, and creative thinking and logic will go as far as experience in helping find the answers.

“Our hope is that by helping people think outside the “traditional” routes into a data career, we can help encourage a more diverse cohort of future data scientists into this exciting and thriving sector.”

Despite being worth up to £73.3 billion to the economy2, the UK’s data industry faces a recruitment crisis. Research from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport in 2021 found that almost half of businesses (48%) are recruiting for roles that require hard data skills, but many (46%) have struggled to recruit for these roles in the previous two years1.

“The UK is a great place to work in data. From healthcare and education to entertainment, sports coaching and fashion, a huge range of industries now require an element of data expertise. And with some of the most exciting data companies in the world operating out of the UK, the breadth of opportunity is immense.” continues Westley continues.


[1] Quantifying the UK Data Skills Gap report.

[2] Digital Realty Data Economy Report 2018 (see also the European Data Market Monitoring Tool) referenced in the UK’s data strategy.

Media contacts:

Joseph Green, Senior PR Manager, Corporate & Business, UK&I, Experian

Tel: +44 (0)7812 737 768  / E:

About Experian

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The Experian ‘Hard Data’ Challenge

Puzzle 1 – The Coffee House Conundrum

Scenario: You are working at a trendy coffee house with some colleagues planning your next big event. Your task is to serve refreshments to a group of data scientists seated at a long table. Each person has specific preferences for their drink, and your goal is to deduce the correct drink order for each person based on a few clues.

Can you solve the puzzle and ensure everyone gets the right drink?

Here are the clues:

There are five customers sitting at the table: Alice, Suresh, Farah, Dan, and Coral.

The drinks available are coffee, tea, juice, soda, and water.

Each customer has a unique preference for their drink, and no two people order the same beverage.

The following clues will help you deduce the correct drink order for each person:

  1. a) Alice, who is sitting at the far left, wants something warm and comforting, but she doesn't like coffee.
  2. b) Suresh, who is allergic to caffeine, is seated next to Alice and doesn't drink tea or soda.
  3. c) Farah, who is sitting between Suresh and Dan, prefers a drink with a fruity flavour.
  4. d) Dan doesn’t like hot or sugary drinks, and is sitting on the far right.
  5. e) Coral is allergic to oranges.

Now it's your turn to use deductive reasoning to determine the correct drink order for each person. Good luck!


Based on the clues provided, the correct drink order for each person is as follows:

  • Alice: Tea
  • Suresh: Juice
  • Farah: Soda
  • Dan: Water
  • Coral: Coffee

Puzzle 2 – The Lost Robot

You are a programmer guiding a robot around a tech event's exhibition hall. You need to guide the robot the shortest distance to the Experian stand by writing a simple code.


  1. The maze is a 5x5 grid, represented as follows:
    • The robot's current position is marked as 'R' and is facing south.
    • The stand is marked as 'S'
    • Empty spaces are represented by '.'
  2. The robot can move in four directions: forward, backwards, left, and right.
  3. You need to write a code that moves the robot step by step towards the stand.

Code Instructions:

  • Use the following commands to control the robot:
    • 'F' for moving forward
    • 'B' for moving backwards
    • 'L' for moving left
    • 'R' for moving right
  • Write a sequence of commands to guide the robot to the stand.
  • For example, if you want the robot to move forward, then right, then backwards, the code would be: "FRB".

. . . . .

. . . . .

. . R . .

. . . . .

. . . . S

Write the code sequence that guides the robot from its current position to the stand.



Puzzle 3 – The St James’s Park Duck Pond

A group of data scientists visit St James's Park, and spot a beautiful circular pond with a circumference of 100 meters. A family of ducks is swimming around the pond, starting from the same point. The father duck takes 30 seconds to complete one full lap, the mother duck takes 40 seconds, and the baby duck takes 60 seconds.

Question: After how many seconds will all three ducks be back at the starting point simultaneously?

Hint: Think about the least common multiple (LCM) of the times it takes for each duck to complete one full lap.


To find the answer, we need to calculate the least common multiple (LCM) of the times it takes for each duck to complete one full lap. In this case, the LCM of 30, 40, and 60 is 120 seconds.

Therefore, all three ducks will be back at the starting point simultaneously after 120 seconds.