Chances are that if you're reading this, and you own a smartphone or you have a Facebook profile and if you're even casually interested in games, then you would definitely have played or at least heard about the hugely addictive Candy Crush Saga. If you have no idea who or what Candy Crush Saga is, (I'll be unprofessional here) then dude, seriously! Anyways, for the uninitiated, here's a quick recap. Candy Crush Saga is a hugely popular and addictive game, available on Android and Facebook, wherein you have several colored candies which have to be swiped with their neighbors across a board, in groups of 3 or higher. The difficulty is stepped up with either a limitation on the number of 'moves' or time or even in the fulfillment of 'orders' where you have to make special candies while combining 4 or more similar candies across the board.
For people who have been addicted to the game, myself included, Candy Crush Saga soon develops into a second nature of sorts. The game may sound simplistic enough but once a player reaches a certain stage, the difficulties set in and the game becomes hard. The question to be answered was 'how hard does this really get' and surprisingly the answer comes in from the least obvious source - a mathematician. Mathematician Toby Walsh, at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia used his expertise to analyze the game and has come to the not-so-surprising conclusion that the game belongs to a class of mathematical problems called NP-Hard. In real life terms, NP-Hard problems are categorized as those for which finding an optimal solution is a very tough job. For the sake of simplicity, we will forego Walsh's methodologies, which you can read up in the Source segment of this article.
However, we would definitely delve more into the NP-Hard classification. Walsh further classified the game to belong to a subset of the NP-hard problems - called NP-Complete, which basically means that once the size of the problem increases, solving them becomes more difficult. Some researchers also believe that there is no practically efficient way to solve NP-Complete problems. Walsh notes that "It would be interesting to see if we can profit from the time humans spend solving Candy Crush problems. Perhaps we can put this to even better use by hiding some practical NP-hard problems within these puzzles?"
So have you played Candy Crush Saga? How difficult is it? Do let us know in the comments below. Bored with Candy Crush Saga? Perhaps Farm Heroes Saga is more to your liking.