This is the thirty second part of the ILP series. For your convenience you can find other parts in the table of contents in Part 1 – Boolean algebra

Hello! Today we will solve classic constraint programming riddle using ILP.


Farmer has wolf, goat, and cabbage. He wants to cross the river with all his stuff, but he has small boat and is able to move to the other bank of the river with only one thing in it. What’s more, if wolf stays alone (without farmer) with the goat, he eats it. If goat stays alone (without farmer) with the cabbage, she eats it. We want to find minimum number of moves allowing to cross the river.


Unfortunately, there is probably no magic solution here, we just need to examine all possible states. Of course we are not going to implement this by hand, we want ILP solver to solve it for us.

We represent position of every player (farmer, wolf, cabbage, goat) as a binary integer. False indicates that player is on the left side of the river (initial position), true indicates that player is on the right side.

In every turn we modify variables: since we don’t know the minimum number of moves, we need to estimate its upper bound. Since there is 2^4 possible states, we assume that there will be no more than 16 turns. If that doesn’t hold it means that some state is repeated, which for sure will not happen in optimal solution.

In every turn we are allowed to move at most two players. What’s more, only farmer is able to drive the boat, so he must move if anyone does. We also need to prohibit some states: in order to do that, we will easily hash current state by multiplying players’ variables by powers of two, so our state will be unambiguous.

Since writing down all variables would be cumbersome, we will get down to C# code. We will use looping here, so our transformations will be pretty easy.

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.Linq;
using MilpManager.Abstraction;
using MilpManager.Implementation;
using MilpManager.Implementation.CompositeOperations;
using OrToolsMilpManager.Implementation;

namespace WolfGoatCabbage
    class Program
        static void Main()
            var solver = new OrToolsMilpSolver(5);

            // Weights, they need to be separate in order to hash state easily
            int farmerWeight = 1<<3;
            int wolfWeight = 1<<2;
            int cabbageWeight = 1<<1;
            int goatWeight = 1<<0;

            // In order to track changes
            var farmerVariables = new List< IVariable>();
            var wolfVariables = new List< IVariable>();
            var cabbageVariables = new List< IVariable>();
            var goatVariables = new List< IVariable>();

            // State in the previous turn
            IVariable oldSide = null;

            // At start farmer is on the left side
            int farmerSide = 0;

            var result = solver.CompositeOperation(CompositeOperationType.Loop, new LoopParameters
                // We have at most 2^4 states
                MaxIterations = 2*2*2*2,
                Body = new Func< IVariable, IVariable[], IVariable>[]
                    (counter, all) =>
                        // We hash current state
                        IVariable newSum = solver.Operation(OperationType.Addition, all[0].Operation(OperationType.Multiplication, solver.FromConstant(farmerWeight)),
                            all[1].Operation(OperationType.Multiplication, solver.FromConstant(wolfWeight)),
                            all[2].Operation(OperationType.Multiplication, solver.FromConstant(cabbageWeight)),
                            all[3].Operation(OperationType.Multiplication, solver.FromConstant(goatWeight)));
                        // We sum variables in order to know how many palyers are on the right side
                        IVariable newSide = solver.Operation(OperationType.Addition, all);

                        // If this is another iteration
                        if (oldSide != null)
                            // Disable states
                            newSum.Set(CompositeConstraintType.NotFromSet, null,
                                // Cabbage and goat alone on the right side
                                solver.FromConstant(cabbageWeight + goatWeight),
                                // Wolf and goat alone on the right side
                                solver.FromConstant(wolfWeight + goatWeight),
                                // Farmer on the left side, all the others on the right side
                                solver.FromConstant(wolfWeight + cabbageWeight + goatWeight),
                                // Farmer on the right side, all the others on the left side
                                // Wolf and goat alone on the left side
                                solver.FromConstant(farmerWeight + cabbageWeight),
                                // Goad and cabbage alone on the left side
                                solver.FromConstant(farmerWeight + wolfWeight)

                            // Who moved right
                            var onlyRightMoves = solver.Operation(OperationType.Conjunction, 
                                all[0].Operation(OperationType.Subtraction, farmerVariables.Last()).Operation(OperationType.IsGreaterOrEqual, solver.FromConstant(0)),
                                all[1].Operation(OperationType.Subtraction, wolfVariables.Last()).Operation(OperationType.IsGreaterOrEqual, solver.FromConstant(0)),
                                all[2].Operation(OperationType.Subtraction, cabbageVariables.Last()).Operation(OperationType.IsGreaterOrEqual, solver.FromConstant(0)),
                                all[3].Operation(OperationType.Subtraction, goatVariables.Last()).Operation(OperationType.IsGreaterOrEqual, solver.FromConstant(0))

                            // Who moved left
                            var onlyLeftMoves = solver.Operation(OperationType.Conjunction,
                                all[0].Operation(OperationType.Subtraction, farmerVariables.Last()).Operation(OperationType.IsLessOrEqual, solver.FromConstant(0)),
                                all[1].Operation(OperationType.Subtraction, wolfVariables.Last()).Operation(OperationType.IsLessOrEqual, solver.FromConstant(0)),
                                all[2].Operation(OperationType.Subtraction, cabbageVariables.Last()).Operation(OperationType.IsLessOrEqual, solver.FromConstant(0)),
                                all[3].Operation(OperationType.Subtraction, goatVariables.Last()).Operation(OperationType.IsLessOrEqual, solver.FromConstant(0))

                            // At most two players can move in this turn
                            // We know that if someone moves, it is farmer with someone else
                            newSide.Operation(OperationType.Subtraction, oldSide).Operation(OperationType.AbsoluteValue).Set(ConstraintType.LessOrEqual, solver.FromConstant(2));

                            // We allow only coherent moves (all from left to right or all from right to left)
                            onlyRightMoves.Operation(OperationType.Disjunction, onlyLeftMoves).MakeTrue();

                        // Farmer changes side
                        farmerSide = 1 - farmerSide;
                        var newFarmer = all[0].Operation(OperationType.BinaryNegation);
                        farmerSide = 1 - farmerSide;

                        // Store existing state
                        oldSide = newSide;

                        // Return new variable
                        return newFarmer;
                    (counter, all) => solver.CreateAnonymous(Domain.BinaryInteger),
                    (counter, all) => solver.CreateAnonymous(Domain.BinaryInteger),
                    (counter, all) => solver.CreateAnonymous(Domain.BinaryInteger)
            solver.FromConstant(0), // farmer on the left side
            solver.FromConstant(0), // wolf on the left side
            solver.FromConstant(0), // cabbage on the left side
            solver.FromConstant(0) // goat on the left side
            var moves = result.Reverse().First();

            oldSide.Set(ConstraintType.Equal, solver.FromConstant(4)); // everyone on the right side

            solver.AddGoal("minimizeMoves", moves.MakeGoal(GoalType.Minimize));

            for (int i = 0; i <= (int)moves.GetValue(); ++i)
                    $"Iteration: {i}\nFarmer: {Side(farmerVariables[i].GetValue())}, Wolf: {Side(wolfVariables[i].GetValue())}, Cabbage: {Side(cabbageVariables[i].GetValue())}, Goat: {Side(goatVariables[i].GetValue())}");

        private static string Side(double value)
            return (int)Math.Round(value) == 0 ? "Left" : "Right";


Iteration: 0
Farmer: Left, Wolf: Left, Cabbage: Left, Goat: Left
Iteration: 1
Farmer: Right, Wolf: Left, Cabbage: Left, Goat: Right
Iteration: 2
Farmer: Left, Wolf: Left, Cabbage: Left, Goat: Right
Iteration: 3
Farmer: Right, Wolf: Left, Cabbage: Right, Goat: Right
Iteration: 4
Farmer: Left, Wolf: Left, Cabbage: Right, Goat: Left
Iteration: 5
Farmer: Right, Wolf: Right, Cabbage: Right, Goat: Left
Iteration: 6
Farmer: Left, Wolf: Right, Cabbage: Right, Goat: Left
Iteration: 7
Farmer: Right, Wolf: Right, Cabbage: Right, Goat: Right


It looks like implementing this riddle is not that hard.