Statistically Solving Crossword Puzzles

Published by patrick honner on

I am lover of crossword puzzles.  I do the NYT crossword puzzle regularly, I’ve competed in the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, and I’ve even dabbled in constructing puzzles myself.

There’s a great deal of crossover between math lovers and crossword puzzle lovers, and one example of this crossover is Matthew Ginsberg.  Ginsberg is a regular puzzle constructor, has a PhD in math from Oxford, and is an expert in artificial intelligence.

Not a huge stretch, then, that he has developed a rather effective crossword puzzle solving robot, Dr. Fill, that is now challenging the top human performers .

Ginsberg runs a company that produces software for the Air Force that helps calculate the most efficient flight path for airplanes.  Here’s the cool part:  “Some of the statistical techniques [used to calculate optimal paths of airplanes] are also handy, it turns out, for solving crossword puzzles.

Yet another example of how statistical reasoning is emerging as primary tool in modern science and society!

patrick honner

Math teacher in Brooklyn, New York


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