Putting A New Face On Sudoku's Ancient Ancestor

One of the world's most ancient math puzzles, the magic square has traditionally been a numbers game. Electrical engineer Lee Sallows gives the ancient construct shape, creating an entirely new sort of puzzle in the process.

If you've played Sudoku, then you're familiar with the concept of the magic square. It's a grid filled with numbers that equal the same sum when added together vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. It's a construct that's been around since 650 BCE, and while mathematicians have tweaked the formula to allow for increasingly large amounts of numbers, it's always been about numbers.

Until electrical engineer Lee Sallows came along and gave it shapes.

Sallows, based out of The Netherlands, created the first geometrical magic squares, or geomagic squares, back in 2001, by replacing the numbers in a traditional magic square with shapes. Instead of the numbers adding up to a certain sum, the shapes in the various boxes can be pieced together to form the same geometrical shape in a row, column, or diagonally.

Geomagic squares can take on a wide variety of forms, from pie pieces that form a circle to Tetris-like constructs that come together to form a specific object. Taking the concept further, multi-colored pieces can be combined so that each row and column can be combined into two or more objects.

Check out some of the examples from Sallows' website.

View gallery »


The results are often quite pretty. I can imagine games based off of these geomagic squares would be every bit as engaging as Sudoku if not more, with the added benefit of having colorful shapes that don't make me want to fall asleep.

Hit up Sallows' website to read more about the theory behind geomagic squares.

Geomagic Squares [Home Page via New Scientist]