Tuesday, April 12, 2005

The Logic Problem

I'll throw this out there as a general question, but how does one gauge the difficulty of a logic problem, and more importantly, how does one write a logic problem intentionally of a specific difficulty level?

I've faced these questions recently and in the past when attempting to write logic problems as part of larger extravaganza. Since most have time constraints, it's difficult to justify writing a logic puzzle that could take 3 hours, but I also don't want to come up with a super easy puzzle that can be finished in 15 minutes.

My own experience, both solving and constructing, has shown the following:
1) Number of data categories and values within the data categories. If you've got three men with three hats and three dogs, all of different types, you can create a very simple logic puzzle. Whereas eight space aliens from different planets who are all different colors carrying different cargo and flying to the same eight planets as before (just not their own) in a certain amount of time would require a lot more clues.
2) Number of data categories with unknown data points within the category. For example, in the previous space alien one, the times could be given as from 1 to 10 light years, in 0.5 increments. That gives 19 possible values, of which only 8 will be used.
3) Complexity of the first few break-ins. Knowing Tex owns the mastiff is an obviously easy clue. Using four different clues to establish that the alien who travelled the least is one of two, thereby eliminating one of two planets that could have been the least, is a pretty difficult piece of reasoning.
4) Sequential rankings. I find that if a puzzle uses clues that order data, not eliminate certain matchups, this can be especially difficult.

For my money, Official actually makes the best logic puzzles. Usually over 70, with the 5-star puzzles truly deserving of the ranking. The first 1/3 of the book is a great warm-up, while the later 3 and 4-star puzzles have challenges all there own. But I've easily spent a good two days on a 5-star from them before. Dell's not too bad, but the only reason to get Dell, IMHO, is to follow the continuing saga of Barnaby and Dorabella.


Have you tried the PennyPress logics? I am given to understand that the Professor Files in "Original Logic Problems" are murder. But logic problems in general are trouble for me.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:56 AM  


I'm currently trying my hand at constructing logics for Penny Press. I've tried before, but had trouble when it came to writing the solution. After receiving positive feedback from the editors, I decided to try again.

And I agree, the more variables involved, the more difficult the puzzle. I tried to construct a medium-difficulty level puzzle, but drove myself nuts.


By Anonymous Michelle, at 8:22 PM  

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