A commonly occurring problem, known as “bin packing,” consists of trying to put k objects of varying characteristics into a smaller number of categories, or “bins.” While this is commonly encountered in sending a set of presents to a favorite relative on a holiday (you have to find the lowest-cost box that will hold all the items), or in industry (a set of machines having different capacities and speeds must be assigned to produce different products optimally), you have been approached to solve a different problem. It has come to the attention of an enterprising (and wealthy) individual that the game of blackjack fits this model also: Each player is trying to obtain anywhere from two to ten or more playing cards whose face values add to 21 or less, while staying at or above the sum of the face values of the dealer’s cards. The face values of all previously played cards are known, as are the number of cards of each face value in the deck. You have been hired to outline a serial algorithm for computing the likelihood that the next card you are dealt will “bust” your hand (result in the sum of face values totaling more than 21) and then to outline a parallel algorithm.

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