Researchers are offering a handsome cash prize for anyone who can solve this ‘simple chess’ puzzle.
Now before you get all excited – yes the challenge is open to anyone – don’t expect anything too easy. Unless you’re a computer programming expert your progression will be about as fruitful as Arsenal in the transfer window.
Computer scientist Professor Ian Gent and his team at the University Of St. Andrews are offering a $1million (£776,478) reward for anyone who can come up with a programme that can solve the ‘Queen’s Puzzle’.
Originally created in 1850, the ‘Queen’s Puzzle’ involves eight queen pieces of a chessboard. It tasks players to place the eight queens on a standard chessboard so that no two queens could attack each other.
This means putting one queen in each row, so no two queens are in the same column, and no two queens are in the same diagonal.
If that hasn’t baffled your mind you’re either a mathematical/chess savant or you can fully see into The Matrix.
While the puzzle has been solved by humans, computer programs falter once the chess board increases in size.
Gent and his colleagues believe that if a computer program can be developed to solve the puzzle then it could potentially be sophisticated enough to solve the most challenging of tasks – including decrypting the internet’s toughest security software.
Professor Gent claims:
If you could write a computer program that could solve the problem really fast, you could adapt it to solve many of the most important problems that affect us all daily.
This includes trivial challenges like working out the largest group of your Facebook friends who don’t know each other.
Or very important ones like cracking the codes that keep all our online transactions safe.
One of the reasons why it’s considered difficult to create the perfect computer program to solve the ‘Queen’s Puzzle’ is due to the number of variables involved. Therefore it could take years before such a software can be developed.
Dr Peter Nightingale states:
In practice, nobody has ever come close to writing a program that can solve the problem quickly.
So what our research has shown is that – for all practical purposes – it can’t be done.
If you fancy a challenge – or you quite like the idea of getting your hands on $1million – you can send your ‘Queen’s Puzzle’-solving program to the Clay Mathematics Institute in America.