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Taking Sudoku Seriously: The Math Behind the World's Most Popular Pencil Puzzle Hardcover – January 19, 2012


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Taking Sudoku Seriously: The Math Behind the World's Most Popular Pencil Puzzle + Mastering Sudoku Week by Week: 52 Steps to Becoming a Sudoku Wizard + Mensa® Guide to Solving Sudoku: Hundreds of Puzzles Plus Techniques to Help You Crack Them All
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 226 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (January 19, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199756562
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199756568
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 0.4 x 6.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #705,030 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review


"While accessibly written, this book will be best appreciated by readers with experience in graduate-level mathematics or research. Highly recommended for puzzle fanatics and those with an interest in mathematics." -- Elizabeth Brown, Binghamton Univ. Library Journal


"Rosenhouse and Taalman successfully describe Sudoku from a research perspective; their descriptions and analysis of solving strategies are both clear and detailed, and their strategies for creating classic puzzles and variations are insightful. Highly recommended for puzzle fanatics and those with an interest in mathematics." -- Library Journal


"Several insightful chapters describe how to generate good sudoku puzzles...Highly recommended."--CHOICE


"The authors have produced a lovely addition to any budding or practiced mathematician's bookcase. Well-presented and readable for both the novice and the maths expert, which is an admirable feat, this book is for anyone with an interest, no matter how vague or intense, in Sudoku." -- Significance


About the Author


Jason Rosenhouse is Associate Professor of Mathematics at James Madison University and author of The Monty Hall Problem: The Remarkable Story of Math's Most Contentious Brain Teaser.
Laura Taalman is Professor of Mathematics at James Madison University and co-founder of Brainfreeze Puzzles. She is the author of Integrated Calculus and co-author of three books of original Sudoku puzzles.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Ed Pegg Jr TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Along with Sudoku Masterpieces and Mutant Sudoku, this is one of the best Sudoku books ever written. And I do mean written/crafted -- too many Sudoku books are computer generated. This book shows a lot of careful craftsmanship.

In addition to giving examples of many variants, the authors give many of the known records, such as a 12-clue Sudoku X puzzle. Along the way, the book covers many mathematical topics, such as Logic (as it applies to Sudoku), Latin squares, combinatorics, equivalence classes, group theory, searching methods, graph theory, polynomials, and extremes. These are all great topics for any student with a computer. Today, if you have a computer, you have roughly 100 trillion times more power than a researcher in the 1960's. A lot of math education is still in a pre-1960 mentality. It's good to know all the basic math, but it's more important these days to learn how to write a fast brute-force search.

Sadly, there isn't a mention of the creator of Numbers Place/Sudoku: Howard Garns. It would have taken just a page, so they should have including him. Look up "sudoku variations" in Google to find the history. Other than that oversight, this is the best book on the topic ever written. Excellent multicolor graphics, illustrations, explanations, and puzzles are on every page. Highly recommended.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Derrick Niederman on April 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Can you write a whole book about Sudoku? Maybe, but it's not this one. There are all sorts of non-Sudoku puzzles in "Taking Sudoku Seriously," and, frankly, when I started reading the book it seemed as though the authors might be straining to include some delightful but well-worn classics as part of the mix, as if Sudoku by itself weren't enough.

Not to worry. It soon became evident that Rosenhouse and Taalman were using these other types of puzzles to cast Sudoku against a broader backdrop of puzzle solving, and the book is greatly enhanced by this approach. Let's face it, one big problem faced by ordinary Sudoku collections is the sameness of presentation and typography. "Taking Sudoku Seriously" nicely sidesteps this problem not only by the "adjunct" puzzles, but also by the way in which the authors highlight the wide variety of Sudoku-type challenges that have evolved during the genre's still relatively brief history. The result is a book that is both comprehensive in content and diverse in its displays. The use of color is both welcome and purposeful.

Perhaps the best thing I can say is that I'm not even a Sudoku nut and I enjoyed every page. The revelations of this book make Sudoku more interesting, not less.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By frankw on June 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The authors are college professors in mathematics who also have extensive experience with sudoku puzzles. In this book, they cover a range of mathematical considerations from quite elementary to advanced, discussing sudoku puzzles from a number of different perspectives and drawing many interesting conclusions. In several cases, they analyze a smaller sudoku-like grid that uses entries only from 1-6 to simplify the math.

Also enjoyable are a number of unsolved puzzles of various sorts, some quite unusual or advanced versions of the sudoku puzzles published in daily newspapers, etc. (with complete solutions provided at the end of the book).

Anyone interested in the mathematical underpinnings of these ubiquitous puzzles will find this book a worthwhile read.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A. Menon on January 22, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having been playing too much Sudoku recently, i picked up this book to just read through and see if there were any relationships I was missing when trying to solve the puzzles. This book was not quite what i expected with a much broader discussion which focused on abstracting sudoku and discussing how it could be analyzed from a formal mathematical lense. Despite the content being a bit different than what i expected, i am really happy i picked it up as the contents are both interesting and motivating to the reader to consider a much larger set of puzzles and problems.

The book starts out with discussing sudoku. It begins with taking more simple problems and through showing forced relationships in simple settings, is able to set the stage for understanding some forced relationships in sudoku squares. It goes through basic strategies and solution techniques. Soon after though the book starts getting into more abstract settings with fewer rules and more possibilities. It goes through various ways of looking at solutions to Sudoku and it looks at the similarities of various sudoku squares. For example rotations of sudoku squares are analyzed and are quite clearly solutions in themselves as are any sudoku square who's entries are all shifted by the same number (with any 0 going to 1). It discusses some group theory and some unsolved problems in Sudoku.

This book discusses some Sudoku and more importantly discusses how Sudoku introduces many interesting mathematical problems. Some of these mathematical problems are what the book explores. The book definitely motivates the readers ability to do some interesting math with a very concrete object and makes the learning process easier and more natural. Despite not being what I expected, i am really glad I picked this up.
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