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musings, puzzles & programming

Podcast Roundup: March 2017

Hello again everyone! This time, I’ll take a break from programming and tell you about another of my favorite things: podcasts. Podcasts are audio-only programs, spanning all types of genres. They are typically released on a regular schedule and free (mostly ad supported) and there’s something out there for everyone! If you want to read more about them, wikipedia has your back, as always: podcast. If you’re new and unsure how to listen, check out this helpful guide!

In this post I’m going to share three of my favorite shows, hopefully some that you don’t listen to already. For those who are familiar with podcasts, I’ve tried to stay away from some of the very popular shows like This American Life, Radiolab or Serial. If you have never listened to podcasts before, both of those shows are definitely worth checking out as well. Without further ado…

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Finding Boggle Grid Scores

If you haven’t read my last post, go ahead and read that before diving in here. It’s not strictly necessary, but it will give you some context.

In my last post discussing high scoring Boggle boards, I skipped over some important details. Because I wanted to keep my focus on the genetics aspect of the solution, I didn’t walk through actually scoring the boards. A few people have asked me about the details, so I thought it’d be fun to share that as well. If your recreational reading is solely focused on Boggle board solving, there are

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Generating Boggle Boards with Genetics

Each week, FiveThirtyEight posts a puzzle call the Riddler. On Oct. 21st, this was the Riddler:

What arrangement of any letters on a Boggle board has the most points attainable? Boggle is played with a 4-by-4 grid of letters. Points are scored by finding strings of letters — connected in any direction, horizontally, vertically or diagonally — that form valid words at least three letters long. Words 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 or 8 or more letters long score 1, 1, 2, 3, 5 and 11 points, respectively.

I had a lot of fun solving this puzzle, and I learned a lot as well, so I decided to share. The approach I took was to use a genetic algorithm, which mimics the mechanics of natural selection. In the past, I hadn’t found a good application, but wanted to give it a shot. You shouldn’t need in-depth knowledge of programming, genetics, or Boggle to learn something!

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Marquee Mix-Up

Hello everyone! Today I’m happy to present my second crossword creation. After fielding ideas from the crowd and countless iterations, it’s finally complete.

The puzzle is named “Marquee Mix-Up”, and is sized as a weekday NYT puzzle (15x15). After the link to the puzzle, there is a small write-up about the construction, what I like, and what can be improved next time around. This one may prove more difficult than my first (sorry in advance!) so I have included some hints as well to help everyone along.

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