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View Poll Results: Are puzzles without known solutions on-topic?
18.0-19.0 M 3 0.91%
19.0-20.0 M 7 2.12%
20.0-21.0 M 11 3.33%
21.0-22.0 M 10 3.03%
Elsewhere, missed in DC, below 18 M 10 3.03%
14.4kbps or less to 19.2kbps 2 0.61%
21.6kbps to 26.4kbps 1 0.30%
28.8kbps to 36.0kbps 3 0.91%
38.4kbps to 52.8kbps 14 4.24%
better than dialup 37 11.21%
Less than 16 million 13 3.94%
16 million 5 1.52%
17 million 5 1.52%
18 million 9 2.73%
19 million or more 12 3.64%
Yes! Puzzles stimulate my brain! 29 8.79%
No! I feel stupid enough already! 2 0.61%
My WebTV rocks! 0 0%
640x480... 0 0%
800x600... 5 1.52%
1024x768... 17 5.15%
Higher than 1024x768... 29 8.79%
Yes, that would save me a lot of trouble! 3 0.91%
No, that is just too damn complicated! 14 4.24%
I just poach my exponents so I have no use for this! 3 0.91%
Yes, I like larger exponents! 25 7.58%
No, I will miss the lower exponents. 11 3.33%
What are you talking about? I'm D.C.ing or Factoring. 13 3.94%
I've been doing 33Ms for years! 5 1.52%
P4 INTEL with SSE2 8 2.42%
AMD athlon 3 0.91%
Other (please state) 1 0.30%
Yes! 11 3.33%
No! 4 1.21%
don't care. (but I care enough to say so!) 5 1.52%
Voters: 330. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 2003-07-15, 20:57   #1
Orgasmic Troll
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Default Puzzles without solutions

Currently, it appears that the policy is that puzzles without solutions are off-topic, and in my opinion, I think they are very much on-topic. In fact, I find that the puzzles that aren't pre-packaged with a solution are more fun. But that's just my opinion, so I'd like to see what the consensus is among the rest of the puzzlers here
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Old 2003-07-15, 21:06   #2
ewmayer
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Hmm, I wonder what recent threads you might be referring to here...

Seriously, if it's a deep math problem without known solution like "Are there infinitely many Mersenne primes?" it belongs in the Math section, but if it's likely (or already proved) that a solution can be found in a reasonably short time, I don't see a problem with having it in the Puzzles section. But that's just my opinion, I don't have any godlike moderator powers here.
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Old 2003-07-15, 21:14   #3
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I'm not trying to be antagonistic here at all, but it seems that something that is remotely off-topic is being policed with uhm .. efficiency. I'm just curious as to what chaos would ensue if the rules were a little more lax.
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Old 2003-07-15, 21:24   #4
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The other side of the argument is that unsolved problems are *research topics*. A typical *puzzle* requires the reader to discover the often overlooked aspect of the problem that makes the solution *easy*. The pleasure comes from discovering that aspect.

For example, consider the Old Man and his Dog. It is certainly possible to write an infinite series of distances and then find the limit of that series.

However, if you notice that the dog always travels at twice the speed of the man, you will realize that the dog travels exactly twice as far as the man travels. The answer is then *easy*.

On the other hand, "Find all the prime factors of M713" has no such *AH HA* that makes the solution easy.
Similarly, there are many problems that would cause the solver to be granted a PhD if he were to solve them. I would hardly consider them *puzzles*.

I, for one, am not interested in banging my head against a wall trying to determine whether the posted problem is a puzzle or a research problem. If I bother to look to see if there is some prior information, I will probably spoil the *puzzle*.
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Old 2003-07-15, 21:30   #5
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The word puzzle may not be the most accurate way to describe a problem without a known solution. I will throw out a few alternate Titles for forums.

Problems, Riddles, Challenges, Posers, Tests, Competitions, Matches, Games, Tourneys, Tournements

Perhaps the members and moderators could each give a minimum list of forum types which, in their opinion are all encompassing and mutually exclusive.

i.e. divide things up as logic, set theory, programming challenges, game theory, etc. . .
You can already see that programming challenges would either have all the others as subcatagories, or would be a subcatagory in each of the others.

Personally I would prefer the originator simply indicated in the title what subcatagories the problem falls into.
Hmm, is there a way to append icons to the topic name? Is it possible to modify a topic name later?

I don't like the idea of breaking up this Forum into several smaller ones.
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Old 2003-07-15, 21:38   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wackerbarth
The other side of the argument is that unsolved problems are *research topics*. A typical *puzzle* requires the reader to discover the often overlooked aspect of the problem that makes the solution *easy*.
You mean, like finding out that

Quote:
Originally Posted by ewmayer
M157456128945769 has a factor: 2391758598686231111
? :)

Seriously, I think that since this is all recreational, as long as the problem is clearly stated, not too involved, and looks like it might have a simple solution, there's no call to be too heavy-handed in calling it "off-topic" and closing the discussion just like that.
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Old 2003-07-15, 21:38   #7
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I wouldn't consider any efforts I've put towards unsolved problems to be anywhere dignified enough to be called research :)

Personally, I enjoy the headbanging aspect of a puzzle, and I approach those with known solutions the same as those without (well, sometimes I use the fact that there is a solution to help solve it .. but aside from that)

I guess my point would be that I enjoy puzzles with and without known solutions, and if a fair portion of people who read the forum agree, perhaps they could be posted with a disclaimer.

If us masochistic puzzle solvers are an overwhelmed majority, then I'm sure we can find other outlets for our sick and twisted puzzling desires, I just don't want an opportunity to rack my brain pass me by
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Old 2003-07-15, 23:50   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ewmayer
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wackerbarth
A typical *puzzle* requires the reader to discover the often overlooked aspect of the problem that makes the solution *easy*.
You mean, like finding out that

Quote:
Originally Posted by ewmayer
M157456128945769 has a factor: 2391758598686231111
? :)

Seriously, I think that since this is all recreational, as long as the problem is clearly stated, not too involved, and looks like it might have a simple solution,
What is the aspect of this that is intellectually "interesting"? I don't see anything to learn (other than the fact that this particular number has a known factor). There is a long (at least a century that I can document) history that recreational mathematical puzzles provide the reader with a concept that is "less than obvious".
Quote:
Originally Posted by TravisT
If us masochistic puzzle solvers are an overwhelmed majority, then I'm sure we can find other outlets for our sick and twisted puzzling desires
If you "perverts" are the majority, you can have this forum. I feel reasonably certain that Xyzzy would be willing to provide a additional forum for either your "solution unknown problems" or my "recreational mathematical puzzles". Our argument is only about who holds title to the brand name "Puzzles".
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Old 2003-07-16, 00:18   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wackerbarth
What is the aspect of this that is intellectually "interesting"?
It has resulted in several interesting (at least to our perverted minds, as you so eloquently put it) exchanges between myself and other readers, regarding efficient implementation of trial factoring algorithms for large exponents, and to depths exceeding most computers' largest hardware-supported integer data types. But a supreme intellect like yours would surely find that uninteresting, so I'll trouble you no further with it.
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Old 2003-07-16, 00:32   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ewmayer
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wackerbarth
What is the aspect of this that is intellectually "interesting"?
It has resulted in several interesting (at least to our perverted minds, as you so eloquently put it) exchanges between myself and other readers, regarding efficient implementation of trial factoring algorithms
I find no exchange in this column, or illuminating disclosure of results or methodology.

Please, do not misinterpret my position. Your investigation of "efficient implementation of trial factoring algorithms" is certainly an appropriate field of research. I encourage you to continue it.

"Math" seems that it might be an appropriate forum to discuss the research. And some other forum might be appropriate for discussion of particular problems.

However, I do not feel that this is the appropriate forum for that research. I request that you leave this forum for the well established field of "recreational mathematical puzzles"
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Old 2003-07-16, 03:01   #11
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Topics without a home are always welcome in the Lounge :D

Wackerbarth, an alternative to locking off-topic threads might be to simply move them to the Lounge. As a moderator, this is a simple thing to do.
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