Mathematics

Sudoku Puzzles



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Asking whether Sudoku puzzles improve mathematical skill is like asking whether Word Search puzzles improve vocabulary skills. Both puzzles are of a similar type, where maybe the number or word being sought doesn't really register in the mind as what it represents, but as just another form of a pattern to be discovered. However, a Crossword puzzle can be beneficial, as it demands a certain knowledge of trivial and connections. Does this mean that the logical patterns presented in Sudoku puzzles have a similar effect?

Basic rules for a Sudoku puzzle give a person a puzzle of 9 boxes broken down into 9 smaller boxes each, that must be filled with the numbers 1 through 9, stretch across each row and extend the length of each column without repeating. A set quantity of numbers is spread throughout the squares and the trick is to fill in the rest, varied by difficulty. Variations of the theme can include diagonal lines as well, falling into the same set of rules. However, numbers need not be used, and can be substituted with letters or symbols. It can be argued that the logic involved can be beneficial for word problems and other such symbolic mathematical questions.

While this first and classic example of the game does improve logic skills, it does little for straight number crunching. Although another form of the game called 'Sumdoku' requires the satisfying of the previous rules but doing so in a manner that calls for the numbers of a certain outlined section to add up to a previously established number. As numbers 1 through 9 add up to 45, sections can be assigned with any number from 1 to 45. In the process of satisfying the addition of the sections and the original game rules, mathematical skills can be improved. Harder difficulties can be very taxing and require much thought before it can be solved.

Similar to 'Sumdoku', another variation called 'Cross Sums' mimics the style of Crossword puzzles in that a row must add to a certain number between 1 to 45 and not repeat any of the numbers in a row or column. Cross Sums are different from normal Sudoku puzzles because there are no playing field size limitations, and it can be much larger than the original 3 by 3 playing area. So although the nature is very similar to the 'Sumdoku' game, it is actually just Crossword with numbers. This version is also very helpful for building simple mathematical skill.

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