JUL 07, 2015 01:11 PM PDT

So You're a Problem Solver? Great. Solve This!

WRITTEN BY: Robert Woodard
3 11 1186

A Sudoku First!

Without really thinking about it, millions of people around the world are tackling some of the hardest problems in computer science such as scheduling, network routing, and gene sequencing in a vast laboratory for algorithm design. That laboratory is the world of Sudoku.

A Sudoku puzzle consists of a 9-by-9 grid made up of nine 3-by-3 subgrids. Starting with clues provided by digits prepopulated in some of the squares, and based on these starting clues, a player completes the grid so that each row, column, and subgrid contains the digits 1 through 9 exactly once. An easy puzzle requires only simple logical techniques. A harder puzzle requires more complex pattern recognition skills. For example, if a player computes all possible digits for each cell in a subgrid and notices that two cells have exactly the same two choices, those two digits can be eliminated from all other cells in the subgrid. Whatever the difficulty, with some dedication, a Soduku player can eventually solve a 9x9 Sudoku game. Of course, a computer can do it much faster.

Hidato, for those of you who are familiar with it, is a Sudoku-like puzzle invented by computer scientist Gyora Benedek. It's usually laid out on a grid, like Sudoku, but for the first time, here it is in beehive form! Try it out, knowing your are helping to advance computer science!
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