Experts have set the table with a chess problem waiting for you to solve it. Requirements are simple: develop an ingenious software capable of solving the problem and you can take home one million dollars, offered by the Clay Mathematics Institute.
Researchers at the University of St. Andrews claim the problem, known as the Queens Puzzle, cannot be solved.
The design of the game comes from its name, where a player must place eight queens on a chessboard in a way that no two queens can attack each other. This means, no queen can share the same row, column, or diagonal.
Professor Ian Gent and Dr Peter Nightingale attempt the puzzle with the giant chess set at Falkland Palace.
Humans have already solved the Queens Puzzle, first devised in 1850; but computers can’t do it as easily because experts say once the chess board is expanded, to be precise 1000 x 1000 times, then the software is unable to solve it as it gets stuck in between it solving loops and creates an eternal problem.
According to scientists, if the Queens Puzzle is solved, we could solve many of the most secure connections on the web. Professor Ian Gent, lead author, said in a statement:
“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 do not know each other or very important ones like cracking the codes that keep all our online transactions safe.”
Experts suggest it is impossible to create a computer program to solve the Queens Puzzle because there are so many options to consider that it can take many years. This is due to a process of “backtracking” – an algorithm used in programming where every possible option is considered and then “backed away” from until the correct solution is found.
Dr Peter Nightingale, senior research fellow, concludes:
“This is all theoretical, 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 cannot be done.”
One of the solutions for the Queens Puzzle. Chris Jones/IFLScience.