Delving into Delusion

N-Queens Puzzle, Part 1-Introduction

 June 26, 2020      Stardate: 73950.6     Tagged as: Python

The N-Queens puzzle is the popular problem of placing N number of chess queens on an NxN grid board such that no queens cannot attack each other; i.e no two queens share the same row, column, or diagonal. The puzzle is often generalized to the “8 Queens Puzzle” to match a standard size chess board and is a good example of a simple but nontrivial algorithm problem.

Combinations and Permutations

Combinations and permutations are often confused; for our purposes I will simply say that one cares about order while the other does not, and this makes a difference. In combinations the pair \((0,1)\) is the same as \((1,0)\). This is good for relationships or interactions because the interaction between John and Bill is the same and between Bill and John, we don’t care about order.

On the other hand, let’s say… for example… I want to calculate all the possible locations of queens without duplication of rows. So given a list of objects \([A,B,C,D]\) or, in our example case, the four possible rows \([0,1,2,3]\), how many different ways can we arrange the queens with one on each row?

$$ P_N = N! $$
$$ P_4 = 4!= 4 \cdot 3 \cdot 2 \cdot 1 = 24$$

Now is a good time to finally break out python and the standard library itertools. Here we can just ask itertools to create all the permutations of [0,1,2,3] for us. Note the result from itertools is an iterator so to view it (i.e. print it) we must turn the iterator into a list.

import itertools
perms = list(itertools.permutations([0,1,2,3]))
print(perms)

[(0, 1, 2, 3),
 (0, 1, 3, 2),
 (0, 2, 1, 3),
 (0, 2, 3, 1),
 (0, 3, 1, 2),
 (0, 3, 2, 1),
 (1, 0, 2, 3),
 (1, 0, 3, 2),
 (1, 2, 0, 3),
 (1, 2, 3, 0),
 (1, 3, 0, 2),
 (1, 3, 2, 0),
 (2, 0, 1, 3),
 (2, 0, 3, 1),
 (2, 1, 0, 3),
 (2, 1, 3, 0),
 (2, 3, 0, 1),
 (2, 3, 1, 0),
 (3, 0, 1, 2),
 (3, 0, 2, 1),
 (3, 1, 0, 2),
 (3, 1, 2, 0),
 (3, 2, 0, 1),
 (3, 2, 1, 0)]

Above are all the possible locations of our queens. Since this is a python list we can view the length of it. For a 4x4 grid there are 24 possible locations of 4 queens on different rows.

len(perms)
24

Solutions

Now the part we’ve all been waiting for…how do we find the solution(s) to our puzzle? The different methods and algorithms of finding the solution is the fun part and the entire point of this series of articles. I will look at the popular algorithms as a exercise in my python coding skills and an opportunity to learn something new.

See the next articles were I find solutions using the following algorithms:

Software Versions

This is an automated list of software versions used during the writing of this article.

SoftwareVersion
OS Ubuntu 20.04 LTS
python 3.7.4