Journal of the Operational Research Society

, Volume 65, Issue 10, pp 1602–1610 | Cite as

A comparison of several enumerative algorithms for Sudoku

  • Leandro C Coelho
  • Gilbert Laporte
General Paper


Sudoku is a puzzle played of an n × n grid Open image in new window where n is the square of a positive integer m. The most common size is n=9. The grid is partitioned into n subgrids of size m × m. The player must place exactly one number from the set N={1, …, n} in each row and each column of Open image in new window as well as in each subgrid. A grid is provided with some numbers already in place, called givens. In this paper, some relationships between Sudoku and several operations research problems are presented. We model the problem by means of two mathematical programming formulations. The first one consists of an integer linear programming model, while the second one is a tighter non-linear integer programming formulation. We then describe several enumerative algorithms to solve the puzzle and compare their relative efficiencies. Two basic backtracking algorithms are first described for the general Sudoku. We then solve both formulations by means of constraint programming. Computational experiments are performed to compare the efficiency and effectiveness of the proposed algorithms. Our implementation of a backtracking algorithm can solve most benchmark instances of size 9 within 0.02 s, while no such instance was solved within that time by any other method. Our implementation is also much faster than an existing alternative algorithm.


Sudoku puzzle backtracking linear and non-linear integer programming constraint programming 


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Copyright information

© Operational Research Society 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leandro C Coelho
    • 1
    • 2
  • Gilbert Laporte
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.CIRRELT—Interuniversity Research Center on Enterprise Networks, Logistics and TransportationQuébecCanada
  2. 2.Université LavalQuébecCanada
  3. 3.HEC MontréalMontréalCanada

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