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People overly concerned with tracking down and denouncing plagiarism have defective characters.  They are small-minded, reactionary bullies....

Friday, October 22, 2010

Sudoku

For a while now I've been trying to find the relevance of sudoku for academic writing. It must have some relevance, right? It requires some concentration and thus might help with working memory; it could stave off senility in the aged or middle-aged. What I've come up with so far is that it forces you to look for what's not there. In other words, in a row, a column, a square, you have to see what number is missing, not what number is already there. Secondly, you have to think diagonally. Your aim is not to make a column of ones, but a pattern of ones or twos or threes where none of these repeat.

Look at a classroom of students. You see who's there. What's harder to do is to see who isn't in class, because there is no visible evidence of those students. You might look at a chair and say, who sits there, usually?

5 comments:

Vance Maverick said...

No! Surely the relevance of sudoku is that it teaches the humane skills and knowledge that are the basis of citizenship.

Jonathan said...

Yes, that must be it.

Thomas said...

Hmm. I've never played Sodoku, but it seems to me that it's a matter of filling in a pregiven (and soon-familiar) form. Also, it's probably addictive once you've gotten the hang of it.

I like the idea (implicit in your analogy) that academic writing can "stave off senility".

Vance Maverick said...

More seriously, to extend what Thomas said, the form is guaranteed by the setter of the puzzle to be solvable. Not all scatterings of nonzero digits across a nine-by-nine grid can be solved as Sudoku, but when you see one in the paper, you know you don't have to worry about that. So it's not as hard as reading, or even as engineering.

Andrew Shields said...

I once heard an artist talking about art in terms of the Nike slogan "Just Do It." But the difference between the artist and Michael Jordan, someone pointed out, is that MJ does a defined thing, while the artist defines the thing anew every time. So "just doing Sudoku" is more MJ than art (but still great fun and very addictive!).