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Well, what do you know. Mihai gives his opinion on puzzles, and I respond.



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 9th, 2009 09:15 am (UTC)
Given the vast number of types of puzzles out there, I'm not sure one can generalize about puzzle solving skills. I'd argue that cryptics require non-linear thinking, but ordinary crosswords don't. I'll also suggest that a fair number of mathematical puzzles don't - sudoku and kakuro both mostly require being organized.
Oct. 10th, 2009 03:42 am (UTC)
I didn't intend to generalize about puzzle-solving skills, just to discuss things I have trouble with sometimes.

With regards to sudoku, etc., I have never gotten into those, so I can't really say, but there are people at Google such as Peter Norvig who seem to think they are important enough to solve computationally. So one might, in the process of playing sudoku, come up with some other approach that might spark the interest of such a person. This could come in handy in an interview, especially with said person.

Also, even though some puzzles might not require nonlinear thinking, they might engender or promote it indirectly. For example, in his problem solving book, Paul Zeitz recommends unscrambling anagrams, such as one would do in the Jumble puzzle. He claims that this helps you to make complicated associations and to "restate" problems. (BTW, I used to do this to pass the time when I was younger, again, not for any particular purpose, and I was at least as likely to do something else like play my recorder or read a book.) A example of "restating" (rearranging) a problem is (what some believe was) Gauss' method of summing consecutive integers from 1 to n, noticing that you could get the answer much faster with the formula n(n+1)/2, because you are summing n+1, (n-1)+2 (= n+1), ... n/2 times.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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