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What makes a Sudoku "good" / "great" ?

 
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nataraj



Joined: 03 Aug 2007
Posts: 1029
Location: Vienna, Austria

PostPosted: Tue Jul 02, 2013 6:17 pm    Post subject: What makes a Sudoku "good" / "great" ? Reply with quote

For the last couple of years, I've become more and more interested in the question what makes Sudokus "good".

Why do we get more pleasure from solving a certain puzzle than we get from another puzzle, even if both proclaim to be "very hard" ?
Is "super hard" better than "plain" hard?, is VH+ better than VH?

Or maybe, "very hard" is not the same as "very satisfying" ... ?

Like, for example, I much prefer a good "Squiggly" to the usual "daily" Very Hard. It does something to my brain that is no longer achieved by
1. sweep the floors and dust the towers 2. fill the houses 3. check for naked pairs and triples 4. look for the xy-wing.

So, there seems to be more to the Sudoku experience than mere "rating".

Why is it that a piece of music gives us pleasure?
Who would even think of classifying music into 4-5 categories such as simple / medium / complex / crazy / impossible ?
What record store would use those categories in their product presentation ?

You could read this as "How do we get the human 'user' back into the equation?". Who are these puzzles for, anyway, if not for us: the Humans ?

Helmut (nataraj)
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Marty R.



Joined: 12 Feb 2006
Posts: 5124
Location: Rochester, NY, USA

PostPosted: Tue Jul 02, 2013 9:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rating terminology is meaningless. Very hard, Super Hard, Diabolical, Extreme, Nasty, Evil, Tough, Fiendish, what do they all mean? I stopped doing Evils from Web Sudoku years ago because they were too easy. The hardest puzzles on this site are much easier than those on other sites.

To me, a "good" puzzle is one which solves with pattern-based moves, but requires two or more of those moves and that they not be extremely obvious; a little digging is required. A good puzzle is like what a Supreme Court justice said about pornography, that he couldn't define it but knew it when he saw it.
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Pat



Joined: 23 Feb 2010
Posts: 165

PostPosted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 3:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

nataraj wrote:


    3. check for naked pairs and triples

Who are these puzzles for, anyway, if not for us: the Humans ?


i've tried posting some puzzles which need only "basic" moves

too easy ?
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keith



Joined: 19 Sep 2005
Posts: 3150
Location: near Detroit, Michigan, USA

PostPosted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 9:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Helmut,

I have noticed that puzzles from different sources have "personalities". I most like the Menneskes with a rating up to about 30.

Others, like Brain Bashers I do not like. playr.co.uk/sudoku I do like.

I do not know what makes these puzzles different. Maybe you can tell us?

Does the stencil for the initial clues make a difference? How much does the human factor enter into selecting puzzles to post on a site like yours?

Best wishes,

Keith
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nataraj



Joined: 03 Aug 2007
Posts: 1029
Location: Vienna, Austria

PostPosted: Tue Jul 09, 2013 10:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

keith wrote:

I have noticed that puzzles from different sources have "personalities".
...
I do not know what makes these puzzles different. Maybe you can tell us?

Does the stencil for the initial clues make a difference? How much does the human factor enter into selecting puzzles to post on a site like yours?


About the "personalities" - yes I think so, too. I do not know what makes the puzzles different on a technical level, but I am sure that somehow their creators' personalities become part of the puzzles. Long time ago, when I was in college, I wrote a small program that could play "five in a row" (Gobang?). I gave it to another student to test, and he came back and said: "one can tell that you wrote it: it plays like you". But I had not done anything special but simply implemented a very primitive "one move look ahead" and a basic evaluation function. Nothing I would have used in real (human) play.

So - I do not think Sudoku programs have any kind of personality but ... each of these systems, be it game playing or Sudoku creation, must be calibrated somehow.

I think that it is in the criteria and relative weights of the evaluation functions used, that the personality of the Maker enters into the machine.
Plus, there is a certain amount of choice in the basic creation process:

Myself, for example, I hate tedious Sudokus. So I throw out puzzles where houses with more than five empty cells must be filled (except sometimes for the "very hard" I allow six). I prefer puzzles with a symmetrical pattern. I hate squigglies with bulky shapes so mine have wormlike shapes only ...

Since last week I paid some more attention to the puzzles I liked or liked less (those are from the Sudok-o-Rama month of May).

Take this one, for example:
(May 5 VH)

Code:

+-----------+-----------+-----------+
|  .  4  .  |  7  8  .  |  .  .  2  |
|  .  1  .  |  .  .  .  |  .  5  .  |
|  8  .  3  |  .  4  .  |  .  .  .  |
+-----------+-----------+-----------+
|  .  .  .  |  .  .  6  |  .  7  3  |
|  .  .  2  |  .  .  .  |  4  .  .  |
|  4  5  .  |  1  .  .  |  .  .  .  |
+-----------+-----------+-----------+
|  .  .  .  |  .  7  .  |  3  .  6  |
|  .  7  .  |  .  .  .  |  .  2  .  |
|  5  .  .  |  .  9  2  |  .  4  .  |
+-----------+-----------+-----------+


Play online
----------

Nothing really special, but I found it interesting from beginning to end.
Nice "hard" phase, two xy-wings, and even after the wings, some basic work to to. Left me quite satisfied, as in: "20-30 minutes well spent".

Today, I solved the May 6th VH:

Code:

+-----------+-----------+-----------+
|  .  .  .  |  .  7  .  |  1  .  .  |
|  .  .  6  |  5  .  1  |  .  9  4  |
|  .  .  .  |  6  .  .  |  .  3  .  |
+-----------+-----------+-----------+
|  9  .  .  |  3  .  .  |  6  .  1  |
|  .  3  .  |  .  5  .  |  .  2  .  |
|  1  .  4  |  .  .  6  |  .  .  5  |
+-----------+-----------+-----------+
|  .  5  .  |  .  .  9  |  .  .  .  |
|  3  4  .  |  7  .  5  |  8  .  .  |
|  .  .  2  |  .  1  .  |  .  .  .  |
+-----------+-----------+-----------+


Play online
----------

This time, I did not like the start: too fast for my taste. When there are so many houses with easy singles and then with 6 cells already solved, I always get the feeling that I must have made a stupid mistake somewhere. But then it turned into a regular "very hard" and had a nice xyz wing. In the lower part, which means it took me longer to spot it.

Again, I had a good time.

The May 8, 2013 "Squiggly" must have been very nice, too, because I put it on the list of puzzles I liked, but I cannot remember any specifics. Unfortunately I could not yet find a way to post squigglies here in the forum ...

Usually, the squigglies and especially the compass sudokus take much longer than the "very hard". More time well spent, more pleasure ... Smile

What I like most in squigglies is that I seem to find hidden singles much more often than in regular sudokus, or is it that I look for them more often ?
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