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64614.  Mon Apr 10, 2006 7:35 am Reply with quote

According to the Guardian:

Despite its Japanese name, Sudoku's origins lie elsewhere - in 18th-century Europe, to be precise. The game in its current form, however, was created two decades ago by a Japanese publisher of puzzle books.

Nikoli, which has published about four Sudoku collections a year since the late 1980s, came across the puzzle in an American magazine in 1984.

The firm's president gave it the unwieldy name Suji wa dokushin ni kagiru, which means: "Numbers are limited to single (people)." The name was soon changed to the catchier Sudoku ("Number single").

The American puzzles were often embarrassingly easy to complete: some contained rows or columns with up to eight of the nine required digits already in place. Nikoli reduced the number of digits and introduced some symmetry to the arrangement of given numbers, in the process turning the 81 cells into a thing of cruel beauty.

Sudoku has its roots in the carrés magiques, or magic squares, devised by the blind mathematician Leonhard Euler, a native of Basle, in Switzerland. Euler died at the age of 76 in 1783, the same year he invented an 81-square grid that could be filled out so that every column and every row contained the digits one to nine. In essence, little has changed.

Legend has it that Euler, who wrote more than 1,000 books and papers, once devised a mathematical formula to prove the existence of God. Perhaps this genius also foresaw that for players of Sudoku, divine intervention would be all that stood between a crisply completed grid and a pencil snapped in anger.

Though Nikoli has the rights to the name Sudoku in Japan, five other publishers bring out books of puzzles with other names, bringing total circulation to over 600,000.


Although the author met some criticism here:
The myth of the Euler connection is just laziness on
the part of the press.

1) The origins of Sudoku ARE clear. Howard Garnes
invented Number Place, Nikoli changed it and coined
the name Sudoku. It origins as are concrete as can
be, no more or less than the Rubik's cube.

2) Euler invented Graeco-Latin Squares (which are in
no way related to or similar to Sudoku) using
pre-exsiting knowledge of Latin Squares -- which
pre-date his birth by several centuries.

A Latin Square is nothing more than an nxn array in
which each digit from 1 to n appears once in each row
and column. It is not a puzzle, nor are Graeco-Roman


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