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Google Goggles Solves Sudoku 206

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the better-it-than-me dept.
mikejuk writes "Ever been frustrated when you can't solve a Sudoku? Well, now there's an app for that. It is just one more capability in the latest version of Google Goggles. All you have to do is point your phone's camera at a Sudoku puzzle, take a snapshot, and pattern recognition and a bit of game logic sorts out the answer. Have you ever had the feeling that AI is getting to be just a little too commonplace?"
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Google Goggles Solves Sudoku

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  • No, better-at-it-than-you!
    • by vux984 (928602)

      No it was fine the first time. "better-it-than-me".

      You've never heard the expression "Better him than me." ?

      In this case "him" is an "it" ("google goggles"), so its "Better it than me.", as in "better that it have to figure out sudoko, than for me to have to figure out sudoko".

      Of course, its possible that the author just messed it up, and meant what you said, but it is hardly self evident that is so.

      • by Golddess (1361003)

        In this case "him" is an "it" ("google goggles"), so its "Better it than me.", as in "better that it have to figure out sudoko, than for me to have to figure out sudoko".

        If that's the case, then what's the point? Sudoku is a game. Having a computer tell you what to write in the spaces makes me wonder why you're bothering at all (unless you're using it as a learning tool).

  • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @11:05AM (#34836212)

    Ever been frustrated when you can't solve a Sudoku

    No. Never been unable to solve one. :)

    • by digitig (1056110)
      No. Never wanted to solve one. Now, if they can do an app that solves cryptic crosswords...
    • Never been unable to, but then I've never solved one either.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @11:06AM (#34836230)

    The developer of Sudoku Grab for the iPhone - which solves Sudokus via the camera - has a blog post explaining how he did this (in June 2009.)

    http://sudokugrab.blogspot.com/2009/07/how-does-it-all-work.html

  • by krou (1027572) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @11:07AM (#34836242)

    Have you ever had the feeling that AI is getting just a little be too commonplace?

    Could do with some more English AI apps, if you ask me.

    • by somersault (912633) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @11:22AM (#34836420) Homepage Journal

      Something makes me think that you don't really believe the quote in your signature.

      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        by krou (1027572)
        Funny thing is, if I don't believe it, that makes me imperfect, so ... ;)
    • by PPH (736903)

      Have you ever had the feeling that AI is getting just a little be too commonplace?

      That's the final straw! If you slobs can't even watch your grammar, we can do without you.

      -- SkyNet

      • by Tetsujin (103070)

        Have you ever had the feeling that AI is getting just a little be too commonplace?

        That's the final straw! If you slobs can't even watch your grammar, we can do without you.

        -- SkyNet

        Hey, I'm not sure if I think what you're doing is right.

          -- John Henry

  • by tverbeek (457094) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @11:08AM (#34836266) Homepage

    OK, it's cool technology, but this is almost as pointless as Homer Simpson's book of already-solved crossword puzzles.

    • now that's a contemporary reference...
    • Why? Sometimes it's good to solve problems just for the sake of intellectual curiosity. Why do we even do Sudoku puzzles in the first place if there's nothing to be gained from solving them? And I mean, if you're, say, driving to work in the morning while solving the Sudoku (or maybe just taking the train), and then you arrive and have to go to work and just want to know what the solution is - well now you can have it and get on with your day (of course, having admitted bitter defeat and succumbing to puzzl

    • by Zebedeu (739988)

      Pointless? It's all over the web.
      Ok, maybe just the geek web, but still, at the very least it was a great marketing move.

    • My aunt likes Sudokus but isn't terribly good at them. I could see her enjoying a hint every now and then without having to wait for the next day's paper or type it in to a computer. Then again, there's no way she'd use this setup without me or someone like me getting her into smart phones.
    • by antdude (79039)

      Was that the same crossword puzzle book that was in the last new episode? :)

  • by TheSpoom (715771) <slashdot@ubermMONET00.net minus painter> on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @11:09AM (#34836268) Homepage Journal

    I think I remember hearing during my CS university days that solving Sudoku was relatively easy compared to actually coming up with puzzles that satisfied the rules of Sudoku.

    • by timeOday (582209)
      Solving Sudoku is easy compared to the visual processing they're doing to recognize the puzzle from an image in the first place. I wonder how robust it is.
      • They probably didn't do the image processing from scratch, they probably used a pre-existing image comparison tool to check for something like

        ###
        ###
        ###

        Then chopped each square into its own, verified the symbol, and filled their arrays and got Cracking.

        • by timeOday (582209)
          Yeah, probably. But try implementing like that sometime, it isn't easy to make it really work well.
        • by slim (1652)

          They probably didn't do the image processing from scratch, they probably used a pre-existing image comparison tool to check for something like

          Google Goggles is build around a pretty sophisticated image processing/classification engine. It takes an arbitrary snapshot, and recognises barcodes, QR codes, book/CD/DVD covers, product logos etc., and directs you to the appropriate Google search results.

          With this, they've just added a class of image, and a service to handle it. It's a fun way to raise awareness of Goggles for them, I guess.

    • by drosboro (1046516)

      I think I remember hearing during my CS university days that solving Sudoku was relatively easy compared to actually coming up with puzzles that satisfied the rules of Sudoku.

      True enough... although it's not really that hard to generate puzzles that satisfy the rules of Sudoku, either. What is a bit more challenging is coming up with interesting puzzles that solve the rules of sudoku, as is assigning a difficulty rating to them. I still haven't found a Sudoku app (including my own, unfortunately!) that generates puzzles as interesting as a skillfully hand-created puzzle. Some are better than others (one hopes mine is on the upper end, of course), but it's still hard to write

      • by slim (1652)

        Some are better than others (one hopes mine is on the upper end, of course), but it's still hard to write an algorithm for making really good Sudoku puzzles.

        You sound like you know what you're talking about. Sudokus which claim to be hand-created do generally seem more satisfying to solve. I assume, though, that creating them is machine-assisted in some way. Am I right? I'm imagining some sort of interactive grid editor which shows you the ramifications of your number placement, tells you when you've constrained the grid to a single solution, etc.

        • by drosboro (1046516)

          Hmm. I haven't heard of any software like that... but it sounds like that would be the way to go. When I was researching sudoku generation for my application, it looked to me like most of the "experts" were really just using pen and paper, working "backwards" from the solution to a puzzle. It would be really useful to have a program that would tell you things like "to solve this puzzle, you'll need to use 2 X-wings and a swordfish, and this squares can be solved right off the bat by simple elimination".

          I

  • solving Soduku (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 56ker (566853) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @11:10AM (#34836282) Homepage Journal
    I thought the fun was in trying to solve it yourself, not through having a machine give you the correct answer.
    • by ILMTitan (1345975)
      I always thought the fun failed because it was easier to tell a computer how give you the correct answer than to solve it yourself.
    • I totally agree with you. But sometimes, when you're stuck and can't find another number, it would be cool that this app just gives you a hint, instead of solving the entire sudoku.
    • Re:solving Soduku (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MancunianMaskMan (701642) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @11:25AM (#34836438)
      go get your coat and hand in your geek card at the door. The fun is in writing the program that solves the puzzle
    • by Stooshie (993666)
      Given your sig, are you being sarcastic?
    • Writing an application that can solve any Soduku you give it.

      Both can be enjoyable.

      -Rick

    • I thought the fun was in trying to solve it yourself, not through having a machine give you the correct answer.

      No, the fun is developing an algorithm to process the image and then another one to solve it. Who cares if it robs the end user of enjoyment or purpose.

    • by agm (467017)

      As a software developer, it's more fun to look at Sudoku as a different sort of puzzle: how do I get a computer to solve it? Even if it's just using a brute force approach there is something satisfying about writing software in a low level language that solves these kinds of puzzles.

  • I just tried it with a Sudoku puzzle of "Evil" difficulty, and my iPhone 3gs solved it in about five seconds.
    I grew up on Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein, but this is truly science fiction.
    • Re:Stunning (Score:4, Insightful)

      by peragrin (659227) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @11:20AM (#34836392)

      What AI though? Sudoku is pattern recongintion. It doesn't take an AI to solve one. There is more processing spent on image analysis than actual problem solving.

      When I think AI I think of some that can create on it's own. Not learn, not solve but create.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        most real intelligences can't create, I'm not sure why you have such lofty ideals for an artificial one.

        • by Moryath (553296)

          "Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time.
          Terry Pratchett, Hogfather"

          AI, in general, isn't what most people think it is. You can make a stupidly-hard-to-beat game where the opponent plays "perfectly" against you, with perfect timing and unencumbered by the physical constraints of a controller, and you get what happens in most of the Street Fighter series (or about any other fighting game), where the "hardest difficulty level" or end-boss is unbeatable, seems to al

        • by peragrin (659227)

          Most of today's AI's are dumber than chimpanzees. A chimp can figure out if you want a termite then you need a stick. Today's AI couldn't come up with a stick unless it was programed into them and even only stumble on that answer randomly.

          Computer AI either have to play with inhuman reflexes or by cheating(adjusting environment settings to suit them). That isn't an AI. It is a computer.

      • by ceoyoyo (59147)

        Image analysis counts as AI under the more generous definitions. Learning counts under most definitions.

        Creating is easy. There are lots of programs that "create" music, or art, or whatever.

      • "computers are useless. they can only answer questions"

        -pablo picasso

      • What AI though? Sudoku is pattern recongintion. It doesn't take an AI to solve one. There is more processing spent on image analysis than actual problem solving.

        Precisely. The hardest part of the problem is processing the image into a Sudoku matrix in the computer memory. After that, solving the puzzle is trivial, for a computer anyway.

        Just for fun, I once wrote a C program to solve Sudoku puzzles input via the keyboard. It was maybe one or two dozen lines long.

      • Usually search with backtracking.
    • by Tetsujin (103070)

      I just tried it with a Sudoku puzzle of "Evil" difficulty, and my iPhone 3gs solved it in about five seconds.

      I grew up on Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein, but this is truly science fiction.

      Science Fiction? Really?

      I mean, in terms of visual recognition the pattern of the puzzle is pretty rigidly structured - a grid of numbers, probably with lines. If the image recognition can deal with things like working around the user's attempts to solve the puzzle, that's pretty good - but there are much more impressive image recognition feats out there. (Maybe Kinect is a good example?)

      In terms of problem solving... The problem is an easy one for a computer program to attack, and the problems aren't v

  • i had a meeting with my boss today and he gave me a list of new requirements for extending the inhouse app. i pointed my cell phone at my notes from the meeting, it snapped a picture of my poor handwriting and the list of new requirements, i sent the picture to google goggles, i went to lunch, and when i came back google goggles was busy writing jquery code and extending the xslt transforms we use. i may even get a raise. thanks google goggles

    • by I8TheWorm (645702) *

      goggles is pretty slick... but my $.02, I use Evernote for that and it does the same.

      A not so strange coincidence, I'm working on jquery mobile at the moment... love those guys.

    • I tried that, but instead of a solution the google goggles sent a Terminator that killed my boss. Now my company is outsourcing our whole department, to google. thanks a lot, google goggles.
    • You think that's impressive?

      I've been having trouble satisfying my girlfriend in the bedroom. Tried everything, hours of foreplay, tools, toys, you name it! Then Google came along and changed everything. I simply took a picture of her lying naked on my bed with my cell phone, uploaded the picture to Google, and went to go grab some chinese food. By the time I got halfway through the Schezwan Chicken, she was having multiple orgasms! Thanks to Google, my relationship has never been better!

    • by Stooshie (993666)
      Make it so Number One!
    • by takowl (905807)

      thanks google goggles

      ...thoggles. [youtube.com]

    • by antdude (79039)

      More like stole your app ideas for them to use. Then, you get fired for leaking out work's confidential information!

  • Next it will have my cake and simultaneously eat it. Sometimes I already feel that my computer does not need me, it can get busy or really busy by itself.

  • While I do enjoy a good Sudoku while on a long flight or perhaps while on the train, I've never understood everyone else's insatiable fascination with them. From a programming perspective, it's an easy puzzle to solve. All you need to know is the various techniques for solving a square. Though also from a computing standpoint, you could quite easily brute force your way through it in a few minutes, no doubt. And like the famous Rubiks Cube - you COULD essentially do it if you had enough memory to preform th

    • by slim (1652)

      Most people think that Sudoku is a math puzzle because its often associated with numbers, but thats not really the case as you can do it with any 9 unique identifiers.

      Well, set theory isn't to (necessarily) do with numbers, and it's still maths.

      Sudoku's a lot easier for a human to solve when the nine symbols happen to be numbers (or anything else with a well defined order), because you frequently count through the symbols to see which ones are missing.

      Kakuro FTW, by the way.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by maxwell demon (590494)

      Most people think that Sudoku is a math puzzle because its often associated with numbers, but thats not really the case as you can do it with any 9 unique identifiers.

      Most people think math means it has to be associated with numbers, but that's not really the case. Numbers just turn out to be a great tool which can be applied to a wide range of mathematical problems. But the problems themselves are often not defined in terms of numbers.

      I'd consider Sudoku a math puzzle, even without numbers. You have a set

      • I suppose I see it as more of a logic problem , and while you could say that the foundations of logic are based on mathematics, I like to keep them seperate to help with parsing exactly whats going on.

        One does not even need to understand addition to do a Sudoku, but you need to understand addition to do just about anything in Mathematics.

  • Be common too place to the whatsit?

  • It isn't AI. AI is whatever it is that machines can't do yet.

    • by slim (1652)

      It isn't AI. AI is whatever it is that machines can't do yet.

      It's a funny old term, AI. So much so that someone coined the term "machine intelligence" to mean what AI used to mean.

      In pursuing machine intelligence, computer scientists developed a load of techniques which came to be generally useful for other purposes. LISP and Prolog came out of this. As it happens, Prolog is a very good choice of language if you ever want to write a Sudoku solver. And LISP is a good choice of language if you want to write an image recognition algorithm which processes photographs of

    • by Chapter80 (926879)

      It isn't AI. AI is whatever it is that machines can't do yet.

      I'm glad you said that. So many people react immediately with "This isn't AI!", and you defined AI perfectly.

  • I just tried it on my phone and it had trouble recognizing some of the printed numbers. So It did the sudoku puzzle without all of the clues. It gave a correct answer for what it recognized, but it placed the wrong numbers in the places that it had left out a clue so the back of the book answer was wrong. It found the correct answer on the second try but it still dropped a clue on that one also.

  • Hey that's cheating!

    Oh right, that's what Google is for.

  • [quote]Have you ever had the feeling that AI is getting just a little be too commonplace?[\quote]

    I wrote a 'human' version of a sudoku solver on vacation a couple of years ago - on the flight between two Hawaiian islands. It would have been easier/shorter to write the recursive solver that will solve any sudoku board, but I wanted to write code that works the puzzle similar to how I do it by hand. There wasn't much there deserving of being called 'AI'.

    The only thing vaguely AI about this is the 'Machine V

  • A well dressed man infiltrates a Google data center after yet another night of single malt, high stakes card games, playing with gadgets, and a roll in the hay with an exotic lass. Needing to take down the center for not complying with his archaic sense of 'dishonor' in not forcing carriers to update their damn software, he quickly sketches out an unsolvable Sudoku puzzle, snaps a picture with his Galaxy S from Verizon still stuck on crappy Android 2.1, and sends it off to be (un)solved by the data center'
  • by Tetsujin (103070) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @11:53AM (#34836856) Homepage Journal

    1: Set up a cron job on the home machine to periodically check Amazon for new Sudoku books and buy them
    2: Build a package receiving conveyor to bring the packages in once delivered.
    3: On the conveyor, set up imaging sensors to analyze the package, and robot arms to remove the packaging.
    4: Once the book is freed from its packaging, remove its binding.
    5: Move the individual pages through a paper-feed system. Along the paper-feed system there will be an examination station in which lights will illuminate the page as the phone takes a picture of the puzzle and solves it. The page is then inverted and any puzzles on the opposite side are also solved.
    6: Once each page is solved, it is no longer needed: the pages are deposited in paper recycling.

    From there, the operator just needs to take the bin out to the curb every week... I love Sudoku!

    • by Ksevio (865461)
      Should probably add a step where the pages are run through a printer where the answers are printed back on the page. Then you could just have the printer output directly to the recycling.
    • Wouldn't it be simpler to just copy the solutions pages at the back?
  • The Sudoku Grab for the iphone has done this for quite some time..

    Nothing new here, move long.

  • Having a computer solve a mental exercise is like sending your robot to the gym to lift weights.

  • by Tom (822)

    Have you ever had the feeling that AI is getting to be just a little too commonplace?"

    Uh, no?

    Finding the solution to stuff that requires no creativity, lateral thinking, ethical judgement or other human qualities is what computers are freaking for. It frees our minds to tackle the tasks that computers suck at. Have we taken a time machine back to the 60s and are now all afraid that computers will replace us all?

If the code and the comments disagree, then both are probably wrong. -- Norm Schryer

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