Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Formula to Solve Any Sudoku

Oh no, say it ain't so, ma! From The Daily Mail Online Puzzling behaviour: Maths professor finds the formula that will solve ANY Sudoku By Arthur Martin Last updated at 7:24 AM on 23rd March 2009 He probably thought he was being clever - but no one likes a smarty pants. So instead of being hailed a hero, the mathematician who reckons he's come up with a formula to solve sudoku puzzles found himself being labelled a killjoy. Millions of us are teased and frustrated every day by sudoku number puzzles like the ones printed in this newspaper. But American computer scientist James Crook has published a foolproof system which critics say takes the fun out of it all. In a nine-page theory on the American Mathematical Society's website, he says the solution can be reached by following five logical steps. Among those who are aghast at Mr Crook's discovery is puzzle enthusiast Colin Dexter, author of the Inspector Morse crime novels. He said: 'It's like using a computer program to work out crossword anagrams - it takes all the fun and struggle out of it.' Inspector Morse author Colin Dexter says finding out how to solve Sudoku puzzles takes the fun out of it. When the puzzle first became an obsession for millions in the UK in 2005, websites with software that solve sudoku problems sprang up. However, the Crook algorithm is thought to be the first mathematical proof of how to solve the puzzle. Not even Howard Garns, the U.S. architect who devised sudoku in 1979, could promise that. Mr Crook's mathematical theory will not provide instant success to the frustrations that some fans of the puzzle often feel. His system requires players to mark up empty boxes in a sudoku grid with all possible remaining numbers and, by comparing number sets, to labour through a 'tree' of options that eventually produces a solution. To complete a puzzle using his theory takes more than an hour, while most sudoku problems can be solved within 20 minutes using logic and intuition. His formula was quickly dismissed as 'guesswork' by one keen fan. Tom Collyer, of Coventry, said: 'It describes a few techniques listed in the preface of countless sudoku books - before then describing a guessing process. 'The conclusion? If you make enough guesses, you'll get the answer. Amazing!'

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