Algorithmic Puzzles
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61 of 68 people found the following review helpful
on April 25, 2012
This book contains an excellent collection of algorithmic puzzles. There are lots (150) of puzzles in three difficulty categories. The book itself has 3 parts - the puzzle, the hint(s), and the solution explanation with references and a short history. The conversion to Kindle format was done poorly. You would have thought they could puzzle out that the three parts of the book should be linked so the reader can move back and forth. This is especially problematic as neither of the three sections can stand alone. The Pounstone books, Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google?: Trick Questions, Zen-like Riddles, Insanely Difficult Puzzles, and Other Devious Interviewing Techniques You Need ... to Get a Job Anywhere in the New Economy and How Would You Move Mount Fuji?: Microsoft's Cult of the Puzzle - How the World's Smartest Companies Select the Most Creative Thinkers are referenced in the book and they got the connectivity correct. I would recommend the paper version of the book with 3 book marks. Fixing this frustration would raise my rating to 5 stars.

The above Poundstone books do have a small overlap with this book, however they are sufficiently different that purchasing all three books is not a bad idea.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on August 1, 2013
The content of the book itself is OK; there a lot of rehashing of things that have already been rehashed to death.

However, the Kindle edition is terrible. There is no useful navigation, and it's as if someone took a source document for the book and exported to a Kindle document.

There was a real opportunity here to make an extremely useful document; each puzzle can be linked to the hints and solution, and those in turn could be linked back to each other.

I really hope that the publisher will revisit the Kindle edition and make it useful.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on February 28, 2013
I bought this book on sight. It's possibly my favorite book of any and all books I own. The puzzles are not only ubiquitous and exciting... they're educational and provide many "Aha!" moments. I've been looking for a book like this for years, and I recommend it to those looking for fun and challenging puzzles of varying difficulty levels. Being a computer science major, many of the puzzles are also fun to implement and solve using programming, emphasizing the "algorithmic" component in the title.

Buy this book!!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 1, 2014
My motivation for reading this book: preparing for coding interview puzzles.
This is the perspective from which I evaluate the book.

Conclusion: if you are in the coding interview game do yourself a favor and read at least the first 30 pages. Best return on investment, unless you already have specific training on solving puzzles.

I have at least 5 of the most popular titles specifically dedicated to coding interviews but I find that just the first 30 pages of this book are more valuable than all the other books combined. (This statement is limited to the general problem solving topics and not to technical trivia or dedicated computer science topics like tricky manipulations of a linked list.)

The first pages review very clearly the major strategies for solving "puzzles," which is just another word for problems. If you have a computing or mathematics background then likely nothing on those pages will be new. Regardless, in my case the systematic review of these strategies makes the difference between "I know that I should be able to solve this in minutes but still I run around in loops and getting frustrated" to actually being able to convert the problem space to a graphical representation that helps getting the solution in minutes even with the most simplistic approach of exhaustive search. Of course those 30 pages are about describing the progression of the more sophisticated strategies that, even though I have been aware of them all, are extremely helpful to see in a system.

Contrast to other books I've seen: other books usually start with the problem, then either provide the solution up front, or demonstrate one example of how you could start looking for the solution. Although such examples are more useful than nothing they still do not provide the key to coming up with the methods that the author does in the style of "let's try this." To me, even just a few 10-s of minutes of investment, many problems changed from "maybe being able to solve in an hour if lucky" to "get straight to the solution in minutes".

It is a pity that the academic education of many of us did not cover these techniques systematically as it results in a) losing out against those who are not inherently more clever but somebody taught them these strategies, possibly at the tender age of early teens b) we may be wasting time and coming up with lousy solutions for problems in our day-jobs as coders.

Now for the puzzles: the books starts with a list of puzzles, then has a list of hints for each problem and then a detailed solution. The solution is again explained in an easy to understand way and refers to the general strategies introduced earlier. Most solutions have a comments section referring to the history of the problem and providing references to other works where the problem has been discussed. Actually, the references section of the book is a treasure mine in itself.

And no, it's not dry and no unnecessary use of mathematical notation. It's something a 12 year old could easily comprehend.
And no, no unnecessary fluff as in so many books I endeavor to read.

Although I had a specific agenda in starting to read this book I'm positive that people with a more genuine interest in puzzles will find it equally valuable.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 2, 2012
More than I ever wanted to know about puzzle analysis. Interesting to see all the logic behind the design. Highly recommended for the puzzle-minded.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 22, 2014
Took this book camping. Very clever puzzles from one of the best professors I ever had. This book is a great learning tool.
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on July 23, 2015
This is the perfect book for a math nerd or someone interested in understanding algorithms. While its not a novel, its the perfect thing to take with you for an evening in the park or an afternoon stroll. You can sit and read a puzzle and think about it for a second, or you can read up on some of the different algorithmic techniques used in solving these puzzles. Its one of my go-to's when I feel like taking a break from text books or novels.
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on July 21, 2015
Love this book.

I agreed with some reviewers' comment about the Kindle formatting of this book. You are better off with a paper version.

Fortunately I have no need of hints and solutions. I bought this book only to entertain my puzzle-loving daughter, in lieu of a bed time story. So I skipped the tutorial and went all the way to main section.

She successfully fell into asleep after 6th puzzle, so far as good.
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on January 7, 2014
Varying degrees of difficulty, perfect for math teachers to use in the classroom for upper elementary through high school grade levels
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on January 7, 2015
Interesting.
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