Sudoku and Math – Are They Related?

When you first look at a game of Sudoku, the first though is aw yuck, math however this is not a math game. Sudoku is a logic reasoning game and there is no math involved. There are numbers, sure, but no math.

Sudoku is a fairly simple concept and it does use numbers however the game is played by “placing” various digits cells, no adding or subtracting required. The digits could just as easily be nine different letters, shapes, or colors. Numbers were the first variants used and so this is what many people end up with. To complete a round of Sudoku you don’t have to know math at all however there are many that argue that there is mathematics and computer science in analyzing the puzzles and creating computer programs for generating and solving them.

Perhaps the math mix up comes from the games origins. A Sudoku grid is based on a mathematical object called a Latin square. A Latin square consists of so many sets of numbers from 1 to whatever number you choose that are arranged in a square pattern so that no row or column contains the same number twice. Latin squares go way back in history many even to medieval times.

Leonhard Euler who was born in1707 and died in 1783 was the first mathematician to study Latin squares systematically. Many Sudoku experts believe that the game of Sudoku may have its history based in Euler’s concept however others argue that there is no math involved at all and that the key is simply pure logic.

Researchers, who are studying the phenomenon that is the Sudoku rage however, believe that the line of reasoning required in winning the game is what appeals to many. Sudoku has been touted by some teachers as an exercise in logical reasoning and because the game can be geared towards a specific age group or experience level researchers felt that the challenge of having to use logical reasoning is the key. Math does not seem to play in the game but instead being able to detect and then based on what should happen next “logically” place the missing numbers. The fact that most of the puzzles use numbers is besides the fact. Perhaps the use of numbers instead of shapes or some other set of object is what fuels the fire of mathematical debate when it comes to the logic based game.

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