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A typical sudoku puzzle grid, with nine rows and nine columns that intersect at square spaces. Some of the spaces are pre-filled with one number each; others are blank spaces for a solver to fill with a number.
A Sudoku puzzle...
The previous puzzle, solved with additional numbers that each fill a blank space.
...and its solution numbers marked in red

Sudoku (数独 sūdoku?, About this sound listen ) (English pronunciation: /suːˈdoʊkuː/ soo-DOH-koo) is a logic-based,[1][2] combinatorial[3] number-placement puzzle. The objective is to fill a 9×9 grid with digits so that each column, each row, and each of the nine 3×3 sub-grids that compose the grid (also called "boxes", "blocks", "regions", or "sub-squares") contains all of the digits from 1 to 9. The puzzle setter provides a partially completed grid, which typically has a unique solution. Completed puzzles are always a type of Latin square with an additional constraint on the contents of individual regions.

The puzzle was popularized in 1986 by the Japanese puzzle company Nikoli, under the name Sudoku, meaning single number.[4] It became an international hit in 2005.[5]



Number puzzles appeared in newspapers in the late 19th century, when French puzzle setters began experimenting with removing numbers from magic squares. Le Siècle, a Paris-based daily, published a partially completed 9×9 magic square with 3×3 sub-squares on November 19, 1892.[6] It was not a Sudoku because it contained double-digit numbers and required arithmetic rather than logic to solve, but it shared key characteristics: each row, column and sub-square added up to the same number.

From La France newspaper, July 6, 1895.

On July 6, 1895, Le Siècle's rival, La France, refined the puzzle so that it was almost a modern Sudoku. It simplified the 9×9 magic square puzzle so that each row, column and broken diagonals contained only the numbers 1–9, but did not mark the sub-squares. Although they are unmarked, each 3×3 sub-square does indeed comprise the numbers 1–9 and the additional constraint on the broken diagonals leads to only one solution.[7]

These weekly puzzles were a feature of French newspapers such as L'Echo de Paris for about a decade but disappeared about the time of the First World War.[8]

According to Will Shortz, the modern Sudoku was most likely designed anonymously by Howard Garns, a 74-year-old retired architect and freelance puzzle constructor from Indiana, and first published in 1979 by Dell Magazines as Number Place (the earliest known examples of modern Sudoku). Garns's name was always present on the list of contributors in issues of Dell Pencil Puzzles and Word Games that included Number Place, and was always absent from issues that did not.[9] He died in 1989 before getting a chance to see his creation as a worldwide phenomenon.[9] It is unclear if Garns was familiar with any of the French newspapers listed above.

The puzzle was introduced in Japan by Nikoli in the paper Monthly Nikolist in April 1984[9] as Suuji (or suji) wa dokushin ni kagiru (数字は独身に限る?), which can be translated as "the digits must be single" or "the digits are limited to one occurrence." At a later date, the name was abbreviated to Sudoku by Maki Kaji (鍜治 真起 Kaji Maki?), taking only the first kanji of compound words to form a shorter version.[9] In 1986, Nikoli introduced two innovations: the number of givens was restricted to no more than 32, and puzzles became "symmetrical" (meaning the givens were distributed in rotationally symmetric cells). It is now published in mainstream Japanese periodicals, such as the Asahi Shimbun.


A sudoku puzzle grid with many colours, with nine rows and nine columns that intersect at square spaces. Some of the spaces are pre-filled with one number each; others are blank spaces for a solver to fill with a number.
A nonomino or Jigsaw Sudoku puzzle, as seen in the Sunday Telegraph
The previous puzzle, solved with additional numbers that each fill a blank space.
Solution numbers in red for above puzzle

Although the 9×9 grid with 3×3 regions is by far the most common, variations abound. Sample puzzles can be 4×4 grids with 2×2 regions; 5×5 grids with pentomino regions have been published under the name Logi-5; the World Puzzle Championship has featured a 6×6 grid with 2×3 regions and a 7×7 grid with six heptomino regions and a disjoint region. Larger grids are also possible. The Times offers a 12×12-grid Dodeka sudoku with 12 regions of 4×3 squares. Dell regularly publishes 16×16 Number Place Challenger puzzles (the 16×16 variant often uses 1 through G rather than the 0 through F used in hexadecimal). Nikoli offers 25×25 Sudoku the Giant behemoths.

Another common variant is to add limits on the placement of numbers beyond the usual row, column, and box requirements. Often the limit takes the form of an extra "dimension"; the most common is to require the numbers in the main diagonals of the grid also to be unique. The aforementioned Number Place Challenger puzzles are all of this variant, as are the Sudoku X puzzles in the Daily Mail, which use 6×6 grids.

A variant named "Mini Sudoku" appears in the American newspaper USA Today, which is played on a 6×6 grid with 3×2 regions. The object is the same as standard Sudoku, but the puzzle only uses the numbers 1 through 6.

Another variant is the combination of Sudoku with Kakuro on a 9 × 9 grid, called Cross Sums Sudoku, in which clues are given in terms of cross sums. The clues can also be given by cryptic alphametics in which each letter represents a single digit from 0 to 9. An excellent example is NUMBER+NUMBER=KAKURO which has a unique solution 186925+186925=373850. Another example is SUDOKU=IS*FUNNY whose solution is 426972=34*12558.

A sudoku puzzle grid with four blue qudrants and nine rows and nine columns that intersect at square spaces. Some of the spaces are pre-filled with one number each; others are blank spaces for a solver to fill with a number.
Hypersudoku puzzle, as seen in The Age
The previous puzzle, solved with additional numbers that each fill a blank space.
Solution numbers for above puzzle

Killer Sudoku combines elements of Sudoku with Kakuro—usually, no initial numbers are given, but the 9×9 grid is divided into regions, each with a number that the sum of all numbers in the region must add up to and with no repeated numerals. These must be filled in while obeying the standard rules of Sudoku.

Hypersudoku is one of the most popular variants. It is published by newspapers and magazines around the world and is also known as "NRC Sudoku", "Windoku", "Hyper-Sudoku" and "4 Square Sudoku". The layout is identical to a normal Sudoku, but with additional interior areas defined in which the numbers 1 to 9 must appear. The solving algorithm is slightly different from the normal Sudoku puzzles because of the leverage on the overlapping squares. This overlap gives the player more information to logically reduce the possibilities in the remaining squares. The approach to playing is similar to Sudoku but with possibly more emphasis on scanning the squares and overlap rather than columns and rows.

Puzzles constructed from multiple Sudoku grids are common. Five 9×9 grids which overlap at the corner regions in the shape of a quincunx is known in Japan as Gattai 5 (five merged) Sudoku. In The Times, The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald this form of puzzle is known as Samurai SuDoku. The Baltimore Sun and the Toronto Star publish a puzzle of this variant (titled High Five) in their Sunday edition. Often, no givens are to be found in overlapping regions. Sequential grids, as opposed to overlapping, are also published, with values in specific locations in grids needing to be transferred to others.

Alphabetical variations have emerged; there is no functional difference in the puzzle unless the letters spell something. Some variants, such as in the TV Guide, include a word reading along a main diagonal, row, or column once solved; determining the word in advance can be viewed as a solving aid.

An example of Greater Than Sudoku.

A tabletop version of Sudoku can be played with a standard 81-card Set deck (see Set game). A three-dimensional Sudoku puzzle was invented by Dion Church and published in the Daily Telegraph in May 2005. There is a Sudoku version of the Rubik's Cube named Sudoku Cube.

One more variant of Sudoku is Greater Than Sudoku. In this a 3×3 grid of the Sudoku is given with 12 symbols of Greater Than (>) or Less Than (<) on the common line of the two adjacent numbers.[9]

Mathematics of Sudoku

A completed Sudoku grid is a special type of Latin square with the additional property of no repeated values in any of the 9 blocks of contiguous 3×3 cells. The relationship between the two theories is now completely known, after Denis Berthier proved in his book The Hidden Logic of Sudoku (May 2007) that a first-order formula that does not mention blocks (also called boxes or regions) is valid for Sudoku if and only if it is valid for Latin Squares (this property is trivially true for the axioms and it can be extended to any formula). (Citation taken from p. 76 of the first edition: "any block-free resolution rule is already valid in the theory of Latin Squares extended to candidates" – which is restated more explicitly in the second edition, p. 86, as: "a block-free formula is valid for Sudoku if and only if it is valid for Latin Squares").

The first known calculation of the number of classic 9×9 Sudoku solution grids was posted on the USENET newsgroup rec.puzzles in September 2003[10] and is 6,670,903,752,021,072,936,960 (sequence A107739 in OEIS). This is roughly 1.2×10−6 times the number of 9×9 Latin squares. A detailed calculation of this figure was provided by Bertram Felgenhauer and Frazer Jarvis in 2005.[11] Various other grid sizes have also been enumerated—see the main article for details. The number of essentially different solutions, when symmetries such as rotation, reflection, permutation and relabelling are taken into account, was shown by Ed Russell and Frazer Jarvis to be just 5,472,730,538[12] (sequence A109741 in OEIS).

The maximum number of givens provided while still not rendering a unique solution is four short of a full grid; if two instances of two numbers each are missing and the cells they are to occupy form the corners of an orthogonal rectangle, and exactly two of these cells are within one region, there are two ways the numbers can be assigned. Since this applies to Latin squares in general, most variants of Sudoku have the same maximum. The inverse problem—the fewest givens that render a solution unique—is unsolved, although the lowest number yet found for the standard variation without a symmetry constraint is 17, a number of which have been found by Japanese puzzle enthusiasts,[13][14] and 18 with the givens in rotationally symmetric cells. Over 48,000 examples of Sudokus with 17 givens resulting in a unique solution are known.

Recent popularity

In 1997, retired Hong Kong judge Wayne Gould, 59, a New Zealander, saw a partly completed puzzle in a Japanese bookshop. Over six years he developed a computer program to produce puzzles quickly. Knowing that British newspapers have a long history of publishing crosswords and other puzzles, he promoted Sudoku to The Times in Britain, which launched it on 12 November 2004 (calling it Su Doku). The first letter to The Times regarding Su Doku was published the following day on 13 November from Ian Payn of Brentford, complaining that the puzzle had caused him to miss his stop on the tube[15].

The rapid rise of Sudoku in Britain from relative obscurity to a front-page feature in national newspapers attracted commentary in the media and parody (such as when The Guardian's G2 section advertised itself as the first newspaper supplement with a Sudoku grid on every page[16]). Recognizing the different psychological appeals of easy and difficult puzzles, The Times introduced both side by side on 20 June 2005. From July 2005, Channel 4 included a daily Sudoku game in their Teletext service. On 2 August, the BBC's programme guide Radio Times featured a weekly Super Sudoku which features a 16×16 grid.

In the United States, the first newspaper to publish a Sudoku puzzle by Wayne Gould was The Conway Daily Sun (New Hampshire), in 2004.[17]

The world's first live TV Sudoku show, 1 July 2005, Sky One.

The world's first live TV Sudoku show, Sudoku Live, was a puzzle contest first broadcast on 1 July 2005 on Sky One. It was presented by Carol Vorderman. Nine teams of nine players (with one celebrity in each team) representing geographical regions competed to solve a puzzle. Each player had a hand-held device for entering numbers corresponding to answers for four cells. Phil Kollin of Winchelsea, England was the series grand prize winner taking home over £23,000 over a series of games. The audience at home was in a separate interactive competition, which was won by Hannah Withey of Cheshire.

Later in 2005, the BBC launched SUDO-Q, a game show that combines Sudoku with general knowledge. However, it uses only 4×4 and 6×6 puzzles.

In 2006, a Sudoku website published songwriter Peter Levy's Sudoku tribute song,[18] but quickly had to take down the mp3 due to heavy traffic. British and Australian radio picked up the song, which is to feature in a British-made Sudoku documentary. The Japanese Embassy also nominated the song for an award, with Levy doing talks with Sony in Japan to release the song as a single.[19]

Sudoku software is very popular on PCs, websites, and mobile phones. It comes with many distributions of Linux. Software has also been released on video game consoles, such as the Nintendo DS, PlayStation Portable, the Game Boy Advance, Xbox Live Arcade, several iPod models, and the iPhone. In fact, just two weeks after Apple, Inc. debuted the online App Store within its iTunes store on July 11, 2008, there were already nearly 30 different Sudoku games, created by various software developers, specifically for the iPhone and iPod Touch. One of the most popular video games featuring Sudoku is Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day!. Critically and commercially well received, it generated particular praise for its Sudoku implementation[20][21][22] and sold more than 8 million copies worldwide.[23] Due to its popularity, Nintendo made a second Brain Age game titled Brain Age2, which has over 100 new sudoku puzzles and other activities.

In June 2008 an Australian drugs-related jury trial costing over AU$1 000 000 was aborted when it was discovered that five of the twelve jurors had been playing Sudoku instead of listening to evidence.[24]


  • The first World Sudoku Championship was held in Lucca, Italy, from March 10–12, 2006. The winner was Jana Tylová of the Czech Republic.[25] The competition included numerous variants.[26]
  • The second World Sudoku Championship was held in Prague from March 28 to April 1, 2007.[27] The individual champion was Thomas Snyder of the USA. The team champion was Japan.[28]
  • The third World Sudoku Championship was held in Goa, India, from April 14–16, 2008. Thomas Snyder repeated as the individual overall champion, and also won the first ever Classic Trophy (a subset of the competition counting only classic Sudoku). The Czech Republic won the team competition.[29]
  • The fourth World Sudoku Championship was held in Žilina, Slovakia, from April 24–27, 2009. After past champion Thomas Snyder of USA won the general qualification, Jan Mrozowski of Poland emerged from a 36-competitor playoff to become the new World Sudoku Champion. Host nation Slovakia emerged as the top team in a separate competition of three-membered squads.[30]
  • In the United States, The Philadelphia Inquirer Sudoku National Championship has been held three times, each time offering a $10,000 prize to the advanced division winner and a spot on the U.S. National Sudoku Team traveling to the world championships. Puzzlemaster Will Shortz has served as tournament host. The winners of the event have been Thomas Snyder (2007)[31], Wei-Hwa Huang (2008), and Tammy McLeod (2009)[32]. In the most recent event, the third place finalist in the advanced division, Eugene Varshavsky, performed quite poorly onstage after setting a very fast qualifying time on paper, which caught the attention of organizers and competitors including past champion Thomas Snyder who requested organizers reconsider his results due to a suspicion of cheating.[33] Following an investigation and a retest of Varshavsky, the organizers disqualified him and awarded Chris Narrikkattu third place.[34]

See also


  1. ^ Arnoldy, Ben. "Sudoku Strategies". The Home Forum (The Christian Science Monitor). Retrieved February 18, 2009. 
  2. ^ Schaschek, Sarah (March 22, 2006). "Sudoku champ's surprise victory". The Prague Post. Retrieved February 18, 2009. 
  3. ^ Lawler, E.L.; Jan Karel Lenstra, A. H. G. Rinnooy Kan, D. B. Shmoys (1985). The Traveling Salesman problem – A Guided Tour of Combinatorial Optimization. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 0471904139. 
  4. ^ Brian Hayes (2006), Unwed Numbers, 94, American Scientist, pp. 12–15 
  5. ^ So you thought Sudoku came from the Land of the Rising Sun ... The puzzle gripping the nation actually began at a small New York magazine by David Smith The Observer, Sunday May 15, 2005 Accessed June 13, 2008
  6. ^ Boyer, Christian (May 2006). "Supplément de l’article « Les ancêtres français du sudoku »" (PDF). Pour la Science: 1–6. Retrieved 3 August 2009. 
  7. ^ Boyer, Christian (2007). "Sudoku's French ancestors". Retrieved 3 August 2009. 
  8. ^ Malvern, Jack (2006-06-03). "Les fiendish French beat us to Su Doku". Times Online.,,2-2208881,00.html. Retrieved 2006-09-16. 
  9. ^ a b c d e Pegg, Ed, Jr. (2005-09-15). "Ed Pegg Jr.'s Math Games: Sudoku Variations". MAA Online. The Mathematical Association of America. Retrieved October 3, 2006. 
  10. ^ "Combinatorial question on 9×9". Google newsgroups archive. Retrieved September 2003. 
  11. ^ Jarvis, Frazer (2006-07-31). "Sudoku enumeration problems". Frazer Jarvis's home page. Retrieved September 16, 2006. 
  12. ^ Jarvis, Frazer; Ed Russell (2005-09-07). "There are 5472730538 essentially different Sudoku grids ... and the Sudoku symmetry group". Frazer Jarvis's home page. Retrieved September 16, 2006. 
  13. ^ "プログラミングパズルに関心のある人は雑談しましょう" (in Japanese). プログラミングパズル雑談コーナー / Programming Puzzle Idle Talk Corner. Retrieved September 16, 2006. 
  14. ^ Royle, Gordon. "Minimum Sudoku". Retrieved September 16, 2006. 
  15. ^
  16. ^ "G2, home of the discerning Sudoku addict". The Guardian (Guardian Newspapers Limited). 2005-05-13.,,1482817,00.html. Retrieved 2006-09-16. 
  17. ^ New York Times corrections column, April 2, 2007, p. A2
  18. ^ "Sudoku the song, by Peter Levy". 2006-08-17. Retrieved 2008-10-05. 
  19. ^ "Hit Song Has the Numbers". The Herald Sun. 2006-08-17.,21985,20152238-28957,00.html. Retrieved 2008-10-05. 
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ Knox, Malcolm (2008-06-11). "The game's up: jurors playing Sudoku abort trial". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2008-06-11. 
  25. ^ "Sudoku title for Czech accountant" (Free). BBC NEWS. 2006-03-11. Retrieved 2006-09-11. 
  26. ^ "World Sudoku Championship 2006 Instructions Booklet" (PDF). BBC News. 
  27. ^ "Report on the 8th General Assembly of the World Puzzle Federation" (Free). WPF. 2006-10-30. Retrieved 2006-11-15. 
  28. ^ "Thomas Snyder wins World Sudoku Championship". US Puzzle Team. 2007-03-31. Retrieved 2008-04-18. 
  29. ^ "It’s a puzzle but sun, sea and beer can’t compete with Sudoku for British team". TimesOnline. 2008-04-17. Retrieved 2008-04-18. 
  30. ^ "Su Doku battle goes a little off the wall". TimesOnline. 2009-04-27. Retrieved 2009-04-27. 
  31. ^ "Thomas Snyder, World Sudoku champion" (Free). Philadelphia Inquirer. 2007-10-21. Retrieved 2007-10-21. 
  32. ^ "Going for 2d, she wins 1st" (Free). Philadelphia Inquirer. 2009-10-25. Retrieved 2009-10-27. 
  33. ^ "Possible cheating probed at Sudoku National Championship" (Free). Philadelphia Inquirer. 2009-10-27. Retrieved 2009-10-27. 
  34. ^ "3rd-place winner disqualified in sudoku scandal" (Free). Philadelphia Inquirer. 2009-11-24. Retrieved 2009-11-24. 

Further reading

External links



Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also sudoku


German Wikipedia has an article on:

Wikipedia de


Sudoku n.

  1. sudoku (type of puzzle)

Simple English

[[File:|thumb|right|200px|A sudoku puzzle...]]

...and the solution in red

Sudoku (数独 sūdoku?) (also called Number Place or Nanpure) is a puzzle that is very popular in Japan. It was created in Indianapolis in 1979 by Howard Garns and it appeared in Dell Magazines afterwards. [1]

Some magazines spell Sudoku as Su Doku.

To play, a person needs a sudoku grid (with nine rows, nine columns, and nine boxes that are separated by the thicker, darker lines) and a pen or pencil. Using the pen or pencil, the person must fill in all the empty squares without using the same number twice in each column, row, or box.

Many books have been created containing tips and strategies for completing sudoku puzzles. Books containing collections of puzzles have also been made, as well as internet Sudoku generators (computer programs that generate Sudoku puzzles).



There are many Sudoku variations that have been created since the original Sudoku's release.

Jigsaw Sudoku

Jigsaw Sudoku (also called Squiggly Sudoku or Odd Sudoku) is just like a regular Sudoku puzzle, except that instead of the lines being perfect, they are different. Like regular Sudoku puzzles, you have to complete the grid.

Samurai Sudoku

Samurai Sudoku is a Sudoku variation that has 5 overlapping Sudoku grids formed like a big X. These puzzles are big and take a long time to complete. Like regular Sudoku puzzles, you have to complete all 5 grids in order to complete the puzzle.

Mini Sudoku

Mini Sudoku is played on a 6x6 grid with 3x2 regions. The object is the same as in Sudoku, but the puzzle only uses the numbers 1 through 6.

Logic 5

Logic 5 is another Sudoku variation that uses 5x5 grids instead of 3x3 grids, and are in use at the Sudoku World Championships.


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