binary problem
n. A problem that can be reduced to just two factors; a problem that has only two solutions.

Example Citations:
President Clinton works the Middle East as a binary problem of Israelis and Palestinians. But the Middle East is a treacherous mixture of algebra and geometry, not arithmetic: Hidden factors, tenebrous equations and whiplash angles thwart the best of intentions.
—Jim Hoagland, “Mideast Mix,” The Washington Post, August 10, 1997

We often like to view risk as a binary problem: That is, something is either safe or it’s not.
—Gregory Conko, “Running away from safety,” The Washington Times, September 25, 2003

Earliest Citation:
He said he also expects Mr. Peters to propose amendments to the Winding Up Act that will allow regulators to step in and manage a troubled institution before it fails. “Under the present law, it’s a binary problem for a company — it’s either on or it’s off,” he said. “What we need is something to permit an orderly soft landing.”
—Barrie McKenna, “Ottawa set to reject insurance CDIC White paper to be released today”, The Globe and Mail (Canada), February 9, 1995

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