Saturday, February 18, 2017

Futurist: Sudoku, inc

Computation theory turned up an interesting property of problems.  Namely that there exist some problems that are going to be difficult to compute the answer to regardless of the computation medium that you are using [1].  One interesting category of computationally difficult problems is the NP class.  All problems in the NP category are equivalent to all other problems in the NP category (after some transformation).  And the final piece of the puzzle is that solving sudoku is in the NP category.

What I’m suggesting here is that a company could leverage human talent for solving problems like sudoku puzzles to handle computationally difficult problems for their clients.  We actually see this already happening in small cases [2], and the idea is definitely receiving some research focus [3].

Imagine a company that sends out consultants to client sites in order to help them understand how to map their problems into a form that can be solved by some sort of human playable game.  The client can then send their data back to the company.  The company will send the data to a number of games that they create specifically to find solutions.  The company can have their own gamers.  And we’re not even talking one game being equivalent to one solution.  Very complex problems can be broken up and gamers and machines alike can both try to solve subspaces of the problem.  The client might not even need the final solution; they might just need to know where some of the incorrect solutions are in the solution space.

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