musings, puzzles & programming

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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