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Sudokulogy: Bested by a phone

Bested by a phone

Jan 13, 11:58 PM

I enjoyed a bit of publicity this week with the release of the following video:

Reading the comments on the video have been highly entertaining, and I feel compelled to share some of my thoughts in response.

Sudoku is inherently a simple game. Unlike chess, there are finite number of boards. Solving sudoku by computer, thus is extremely simple — even brute force is a viable strategy. Or in layman terms, a computer can simply generate every single possible sudoku grid to find the one that matches the puzzle, and it will have found the solution. Because of this fact, some people feel that Sudoku is a meaningless pastime.

The truth of the matter is, that being human, I am unable to solve a puzzle by generating all possible grids. I have to rely on logic and heuristics, in order to produce a solution in any reasonable sort of time. Thus, solving a sudoku puzzle for me, is really a the mental analog of taking a jog. The solution that is produced is not really the end goal, rather I’m doing it for the exercise to keep my brain in shape.

I approach a sudoku competition in much the same way — it’s a race against other people, some more gifted, some better prepared, but all human and limited in their performance. In the case of Google Goggles, I lost in a foot race against someone driving a car. I found it a fun experience, and Google got to showcase an entertaining little feature of Goggles.

I am impressed by the creativity of the commentors who that claim that the program contains a complete index of all sudoku games, or that it simply Googles for a matching puzzle on the web. Really, solving is not all that hard. It’s finding the solution in the least steps that is. Just you wait Goggles, some day I’ll be able to write a billion numbers a second too, and we’ll have a rematch. :)

Tammy McLeod

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