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Math Games

The Chaos Within Sudoku - a Richter Scale of Difficulty 74

mikejuk writes "A pair of computer scientists from the Babes-Bolyai University (Romania) and the University of Notre Dame (USA) have made some remarkable connections between Sudoku, the classic k-SAT problem, and the even more classic non-linear continuous dynamics. But before we go into the detail let's look at what this means for Sudoku enthusiasts. Maria Ercsey-Ravasz and Zoltan Toroczkai have devised a scale that provides an accurate determination of a Sudoku puzzle's hardness. So when you encounter a puzzle labelled hard and you find it easy, all you need to do is to compute a co-efficient that measures the hardness of the problem. An easy puzzle should fall in the range 0-1, medium ones in 1-2, hard ones in 2-3, and for ultra-hard puzzles, 3+, with the hardest puzzle, the notorious Platinum Blond, being top of the scale at 3.6. We will have to wait to see if newspapers and websites start to use this measure of difficulty. The difficulty is measured by the time it takes the classical dynamics corresponding to the problem to settle in the ground state and this depends on the degree of chaos in the search for a solution (PDF)."
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The Chaos Within Sudoku - a Richter Scale of Difficulty

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  • Chaos... what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zippthorne ( 748122 ) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @12:21PM (#40886717) Journal

    Sudoku puzzles are like solving simultaneous equations, sometimes it's really easy to fill in a cell - it's the last empty one in a row, for instance. One equation. Sometimes you need to keep track of many cells and their effects to solve them all at once.

    The difficulty of a sudoku depends on how many cells have to be solved at once in the most difficult set in the puzzle. There could also be a number of difficult sets that individually are moderately difficult, but taken as a whole require some endurance. Those are probably more satisfying to solve than a puzzle with a huge set, but they're not more difficult.

    If I needed a hardness rating, that's what I'd pick - the the number of cells in the largest group that must be solved together. This chaos method offers no fidelity. 0-3 is easy and the hardest puzzle they found to study is 3.6, wth?

  • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ThatsMyNick ( 2004126 ) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @01:57PM (#40887423)

    No, but Grandma will be disappointed if an easy puzzle is marked as hard. If I ran a newspaper, I would run this score, and define scores 0-1.5 Easy 1.5-2.5 Medium and 2.5+ Hard. This was grandma is not confused, neither is she disappointed by the hardness level.

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