# Customer reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
11

# Taking Sudoku Seriously: The Math Behind the World's Most Popular Pencil Puzzle

Format: Hardcover|Change
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on June 7, 2012
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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on January 22, 2013
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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on February 16, 2014
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. I have not read the whole books yet, but it does just what it claims, demonstrating the math behind the puzzle. I like these authors' other Sudoku puzzle books, too.
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on April 15, 2012
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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on March 23, 2015
Gets to the point
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on September 8, 2012
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 different levels of difficulty. The book answered these questions and several more that I had not thought of.

The author used color to aid in some explanations and I could not see that on my Kindle. So I stumbled around the Amazon website until I found Kindle For PC and I downloaded it. Now I can read all my Kindle books on my PC as well as my Kindle and I can see the color book jackets and any color pictures that are included in my books. Also, I could probably have printed the many puzzles in Taking Sudoku Seriously from my PC to get a paper copy to work them. I chose, however, to make copies of a Sudoku template and make the paper copy of each puzzle by hand. Perhaps other Kindle users would be happier with a physical book to write in.

In summary, I enjoyed this book because it gave me a look at the many details that are behind the Sudoku puzzles that I like to work.
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on January 2, 2012
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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on January 21, 2015
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 attempting -- such questions as: how many unique Sudoku configurations are there (and how is this number calculated)? What is the minimum number of clues that can yield a unique solution? How can one create puzzles in which every clue is essential to the solution?) Beyond straight-up Sudoku, though, the authors also explore many fascinating variant puzzles. In addition to being a wonderful piece of popular mathematics, TSS also has a lot of interesting things to say about the discipline of mathematics more broadly, the creative impulse that drives mathematical thinking/exploring, and about philosophy of math. For the most part, of course, it only skims the surface of these topics (they are vast topics, and the book in review is quite slim). But it does so in a way that educates and delights, and that encourages deeper investigation. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
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on May 2, 2017
An engaging introduction to Sudoku and many other mathematical delights!