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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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"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.
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fascinating exploration of a popular logic game. A terrific read for math enthusiasts. The authors do a first rate job of describing the math behind the game (answering -- or... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Librum
I really like the very interestingly designed Sudoku puzzles in this book. They are a new take on Sudoku and challenging but not so hard I can't do them. Read morePublished on February 16, 2014 by Molly Johnson
Too much of the otherwise well-written exposition was spent on describing how mathematicians think. I found this distracting from the flow of the beautiful mathematical content.Published on February 12, 2014 by MikeA
After working Sudoku puzzles for years, I was curious about how many puzzles are possible, how they are made, and why puzzles with the same number of starting clues can have very... Read morePublished on September 8, 2012 by Dickenz