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Sudoku (Japanese: 数独,, sūdoku), sometimes spelled Su Doku, is a placement puzzle, also known as Number Place in the United States. The aim of the puzzle is to enter a number from 1 through 9 in each cell of a grid, most frequently a 9×9 grid made up of 3×3 subgrids (called "regions"), starting with various numbers given in some cells (the "givens"). Each row, column and region must contain only one instance of each number. Completing the puzzle requires patience and modest logical ability (although some puzzles can be very difficult). Its classic grid layout is reminiscent of other newspaper puzzles like crosswords and chess problems. First published in the United States, Sudoku initially became popular in Japan in 1986 and attained international popularity in 2005.
The word Sudoku means "single number" in Japanese. The numerals in Sudoku puzzles are used for convenience; arithmetic relationships between numerals are not important. Any set of distinct symbols will do; letters, shapes, or colours may be used without altering the rules. Indeed, Penny Press uses letters in their version called Scramblets. Dell Magazines, the puzzle's originator, has been using numerals for Number Place in its magazines since they first published it over 25 years ago. Numerals are used throughout this article.
The attraction of the puzzle is that the completion rules are simple, yet the line of reasoning required to reach the completion may be difficult. Published puzzles often are ranked in terms of difficulty. This also may be expressed by giving an estimated solution time. While, generally speaking, the greater the number of givens, the easier the solution, the opposite is not necessarily true. The true difficulty of the puzzle depends upon how easy it is to logically determine subsequent numbers.
Sudoku is recommended by some teachers as an exercise in logical reasoning. The level of difficulty of the puzzles can be selected to suit the audience. The puzzles are often available free from published sources and also may be custom-generated using software.
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