Sudoku Sandiway

The game sudoku is a logic puzzle. The idea of the puzzle is to take a partially-filled 9 x 9 square, such as the one shown above, and fill in the missing cells such that numbers 1 through 9 are assigned uniquely for:

A well-formed sudoku puzzle is one where there exists a unique solution to these 3 constraints. In the case of the initial board shown above, that solution is:

(Here, we will adopt the convention that the initial values supplied are in black, and the values to be assigned by the puzzle solver are shown in gray, respectively.)

The goal for the puzzle solver is to not to simply fill in the missing numbers but to find a logically-justifiable way of determining the missing numbers without resorting to guessing their values. In other words, the puzzle should be solved using logic methods.

This program (written as an illustration of logical reasoning) shows you how to solve these puzzles in a step-by-step manner, justifying each number assignment with respect to the three constraints.

[By the way, the program was written using Sicstus Prolog for the logic engine and the TCK/TK toolkit for the user interface elements.]

We can determine the possible values for each cell in the initial puzzle as shown below:

We will use the convention of numbering the cells from left to right and top to bottom with respect to row and column positions (row,column) starting with position 1.

For example, in the above diagram, the top-left corner, namely cell (1,1), has 4 possible values [1,4,7,9], as shown using the little numbers, repeated below.

Adjacent cells (1,2), (2,1) and (2,2) have supplied (unique) values 2, 5 and 8, respectively.

The missing possibilities for cell (1,1), namely [2,3,5,6,8], are excluded by the row, column and 3 x 3 square uniqueness constraints: i.e. they are already taken up somewhere else either in column 1 ([5,3,6]), row 1 ([2,6,8]) or the 3 x 3 sub-square delimited by cells (1,1) through (3,3) ([2,5,8]).

This program will winnow the available choices for cell (1,1) down to just 1 through reasoning by contradiction using one of a few heuristics. The program will display its steps in the reasoning process using both text messages and graphical illustration. Examples are given below of each type of heuristic.

Click on the various sections below for further information:


Suggestions and comments to sandiway at email dot arizona dot edu.