Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Sudoku - A Great Learning Game for Testers

It happened innocently enought. I was getting ready to board a flight to London and this book of Sudoku puzzles caught my eye in the airport. So, with 7 hours of time ahead of me and 1.5 hours of laptop battery life, I thought, "why not?"

I had seen people engrossed over these puzzles with only numbers instead of words. They look similar to crossword puzzles, but only have the numbers 1 through 9 in the completed puzzle. It normally takes between 15 to 45 minutes to solve a puzzle.

I am now an addict. What I have discovered that these puzzles are a great way to develop mental abilities of deduction and elimination. (Guessing only messes you up.) Of course, these are key skills for testers - to be able to deduce software processing rules and behavior by only what you can observe. (Unfortunately, testers all too often lack access to well-defined software requirements.)

There are also strategies you can learn that makes the process go faster. That's also part of the fun - developing a system you can use over and over. Sound like testing?

So, if you are looking for ways to build you or your test team's abilities to solve problems by deduction, try working a Sudoku puzzle (I recommend starting with the easy ones.), but be careful - they can be addictive!

Here are a couple of links: www.sudoku.com