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Jerry Martin: Analyzing Sudoku

Whether from lack of education, belief in misinformation, uncontrolled emotions, pathological upbringing or deficient brain functioning, many humans make illogical decisions.

Despite this, the human brain, superior to brains of all other life forms on Earth (and, until proven otherwise, the universe), is capable of many achievements if used wisely and rationally.

Slowly we humans are improving, but we still have a long way to go to arrive at our collective potential for optimal brain capacity.

We humans still engage in unnecessary destructive wars, wasting inordinate amounts of resources designed to kill others.

We still judge by race, religion, nationalities, gender or life styles different from our own.

We deny science and misuse technological advancements to inadvertently destroy Earth with air pollution that produces increasingly destructive climate change. We carelessly pollute our land, oceans and rivers, killing other life forms that depend on clean soils and waters that existed until humans contaminated them.

We create economic systems that produce an extreme abundance of wealth among a few while leaving multitudes of humans barely scraping by with few elements necessary for survival.

We elect liars and support corrupt governments, believing disinformation. We develop authoritarian governments that give excessive powers to few humans, leaving a large majority to live lives that accomplish below their capabilities often in painful obedient misery.

We mistreat the weak by practicing “might makes right,” using our muscles rather than our superior brain power.

We say and do unkind things daily, on a personal one-on-one basis, that push others away instead of bringing them closer, which would produce more beneficial belonging and reciprocated peace.

Slowly, two steps forward and one step backwards, we humans are recognizing our mistakes and correcting them. But to achieve our god-like potential, we need much work and better, logical thinking.

About nine years ago, I realized Sudoku has wonderful potential for developing logical thinking skills and should be introduced into every elementary and middle school worldwide. Sudoku is powerful, practical and popular. We need to elevate its use from pastime to training tool, convincing educators of Sudoku’s intellectual benefits to all humanity. I’ve dissected and analyzed Sudoku to discover its unique advantages, worthy as an educational tool.


Sudoku trains how to think, not what to think. Quoting Einstein: “Education is not the learning of facts. It’s rather the training of the mind to think.”

Sudoku requires 100% accuracy when solving approximately 50 small cells in each puzzle; 99% accuracy is failure in Sudoku. Training absolute accuracy is a desired objective for logical thinking, since accuracy can be equated with truth. This level of required accuracy is rare in almost all human endeavors.

About 50 times every puzzle the solver must identify the one, two or three pieces of relevant information hidden among much irrelevant information. Relevance is an important ingredient of rational problem solving. Learning to recognize relevant information while ignoring irrelevant information is paramount in all logic.

Sudoku is built on various patterns, as are life’s many forms. Learning to recognize patterns also contributes to logicalproblem solving. Practicing pattern recognition with Sudoku extrapolates to recognizing real life patterns.

It’s important to never make a decision without enough information. Sudoku also trains this important lesson. Quantity of information is necessary for good decisions.


Sudoku, a low tech teaching tool, is cheap. Many books have hundreds of puzzles for under $10, puzzles which if copied can be used repeatedly over many years. Sudoku can be done anywhere, any time, only needing a pencil. It travels well and can be done alone or on teams. Large space or equipment is unneeded.


Sudoku is done by both genders equally well and by all ages between 6 and 96. Anyone who can count to nine can do Sudoku. Requiring no language, it’s the same worldwide. Puzzles have a wide range of difficulty.


Most games have human against human or two teams competing. Not solo Sudoku, which is human against a non-human, the puzzle. With traditional competitions, every move is good or bad depending on the opponents’ response. Not with Sudoku, where the opponent has already made all its moves. All responsibility falls on the human. This teaches individual control and maturity.


Our tournaments here introduced team solving. Previously, Sudoku was always a solo activity. Teams are popular with kids, training valuable social skills, (cooperation, leadership, friendship), doubling Sudoku’s benefits.

Jerry Martin lives in Grass Valley.


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