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Design and solve Sudoku using MATLAB 

 January 10, 2019

By  Aditya Chaudhari

Human puzzle-solvers and computer programs use very different Sudoku-solving techniques. The fascination with solving Sudoku by hand derives from the discovery and mastery of a myriad of subtle combinations and patterns that provide hints about the final solution. It is not easy to program a computer to duplicate these human pattern-recognition capabilities. For this reason, most Sudoku-solving programs take a very different approach, relying on the computer’s almost limitless capacity to carry out brute-force trial and error. That is the approach that I used for the MATLAB® program.

The Sudoku Challenge

As you probably know, solving a Sudoku involves filling in a 9-by-9 grid so that each row, column, and major 3-by-3 block contains all the digits 1 through 9. The initial grid is populated with a few digits, known as clues. In contrast to magic squares and other numeric puzzles, no arithmetic is involved; the elements in a Sudoku grid could just as well be letters of the alphabet or any other symbols.

Solving Sudoku with Recursive Backtracking

Our MATLAB program uses only one pattern—singletons—together with a basic computer science technique, recursive backtracking.

To see how the program works, we can use a simpler 4-by-4 grid with 2-by-2 blocks. Such puzzles are called Shidoku instead of Sudoku because “Shi” is Japanese for “four.”

Graphical User Interface

SudokuBlog

Sudoku Function

function S = sudoku(M,S)
if ~exist('S')
    S = zeros([size(M),0]);
end

%find the first blank cell, or zero
firstId = min(find(M(:)==0));
if isempty(firstId)  %If there aren't any zeros, then we have a solution!
    S(:,:,size(S,3)+1) = M;  %save it
else %calculate the list of all valid numbers that can go into this cell
    [i,j] = ind2sub([4,4],firstId);
    for k=1:4  %loop through all 4 possibilities
        ii = (ceil(i/2)-1)*2+1;
        jj = (ceil(j/2)-1)*2+1;
        mm = M(ii:ii+1,jj:jj+1); %these are the indices into the 2x2 block containing that cell
        if sum(M(i,:)==k)==0 & sum(M(:,j)==k)==0 & sum(mm(:)==k)==0  %OK for column, row, and 2x2 block
            M(i,j) = k;  %put this number in,
            S = sudoku(M,S); %and call this function recursively!
        end
    end
end

Sudoku GUI Code

function varargout = SudokuGUI(varargin)
% SUDOKUGUI MATLAB code for SudokuGUI.fig
%      SUDOKUGUI, by itself, creates a new SUDOKUGUI or raises the existing
%      singleton*.
%
%      H = SUDOKUGUI returns the handle to a new SUDOKUGUI or the handle to
%      the existing singleton*.
%
%      SUDOKUGUI('CALLBACK',hObject,eventData,handles,...) calls the local
%      function named CALLBACK in SUDOKUGUI.M with the given input arguments.
%
%      SUDOKUGUI('Property','Value',...) creates a new SUDOKUGUI or raises the
%      existing singleton*.  Starting from the left, property value pairs are
%      applied to the GUI before SudokuGUI_OpeningFcn gets called.  An
%      unrecognized property name or invalid value makes property application
%      stop.  All inputs are passed to SudokuGUI_OpeningFcn via varargin.
%
%      *See GUI Options on GUIDE's Tools menu.  Choose "GUI allows only one
%      instance to run (singleton)".
%
% See also: GUIDE, GUIDATA, GUIHANDLES

% Edit the above text to modify the response to help SudokuGUI

% Last Modified by GUIDE v2.5 19-Sep-2018 17:20:09

% Begin initialization code - DO NOT EDIT
gui_Singleton = 1;
gui_State = struct('gui_Name',       mfilename, ...
                   'gui_Singleton',  gui_Singleton, ...
                   'gui_OpeningFcn', @SudokuGUI_OpeningFcn, ...
                   'gui_OutputFcn',  @SudokuGUI_OutputFcn, ...
                   'gui_LayoutFcn',  [] , ...
                   'gui_Callback',   []);
if nargin && ischar(varargin{1})
    gui_State.gui_Callback = str2func(varargin{1});
end

if nargout
    [varargout{1:nargout}] = gui_mainfcn(gui_State, varargin{:});
else
    gui_mainfcn(gui_State, varargin{:});
end
% End initialization code - DO NOT EDIT


% --- Executes just before SudokuGUI is made visible.
function SudokuGUI_OpeningFcn(hObject, eventdata, handles, varargin)
% This function has no output args, see OutputFcn.
% hObject    handle to figure
% eventdata  reserved - to be defined in a future version of MATLAB
% handles    structure with handles and user data (see GUIDATA)
% varargin   command line arguments to SudokuGUI (see VARARGIN)

% Choose default command line output for SudokuGUI
handles.output = hObject;

% Add a Background 4x4 blank Sudoku Image
axes(hObject)
imshow('4x4sudoku.gif')

% Update handles structure
guidata(hObject, handles);

% UIWAIT makes SudokuGUI wait for user response (see UIRESUME)
% uiwait(handles.figure1);


% --- Outputs from this function are returned to the command line.
function varargout = SudokuGUI_OutputFcn(hObject, eventdata, handles)
% varargout  cell array for returning output args (see VARARGOUT);
% hObject    handle to figure
% eventdata  reserved - to be defined in a future version of MATLAB
% handles    structure with handles and user data (see GUIDATA)
% Get default command line output from handles structure
varargout{1} = handles.output;



function edit1_Callback(hObject, eventdata, handles)
% hObject    handle to edit1 (see GCBO)
% eventdata  reserved - to be defined in a future version of MATLAB
% handles    structure with handles and user data (see GUIDATA)

% Hints: get(hObject,'String') returns contents of edit1 as text
%        str2double(get(hObject,'String')) returns contents of edit1 as a double


% --- Executes during object creation, after setting all properties.
function edit1_CreateFcn(hObject, eventdata, handles)
% hObject    handle to edit1 (see GCBO)
% eventdata  reserved - to be defined in a future version of MATLAB
% handles    empty - handles not created until after all CreateFcns called

% Hint: edit controls usually have a white background on Windows.
%       See ISPC and COMPUTER.
if ispc && isequal(get(hObject,'BackgroundColor'), get(0,'defaultUicontrolBackgroundColor'))
    set(hObject,'BackgroundColor','white');
end



function edit2_Callback(hObject, eventdata, handles)
% hObject    handle to edit2 (see GCBO)
% eventdata  reserved - to be defined in a future version of MATLAB
% handles    structure with handles and user data (see GUIDATA)

% Hints: get(hObject,'String') returns contents of edit2 as text
%        str2double(get(hObject,'String')) returns contents of edit2 as a double


% --- Executes during object creation, after setting all properties.
function edit2_CreateFcn(hObject, eventdata, handles)
% hObject    handle to edit2 (see GCBO)
% eventdata  reserved - to be defined in a future version of MATLAB
% handles    empty - handles not created until after all CreateFcns called

% Hint: edit controls usually have a white background on Windows.
%       See ISPC and COMPUTER.
if ispc && isequal(get(hObject,'BackgroundColor'), get(0,'defaultUicontrolBackgroundColor'))
    set(hObject,'BackgroundColor','white');
end



function edit3_Callback(hObject, eventdata, handles)
% hObject    handle to edit3 (see GCBO)
% eventdata  reserved - to be defined in a future version of MATLAB
% handles    structure with handles and user data (see GUIDATA)

% Hints: get(hObject,'String') returns contents of edit3 as text
%        str2double(get(hObject,'String')) returns contents of edit3 as a double


% --- Executes during object creation, after setting all properties.
function edit3_CreateFcn(hObject, eventdata, handles)
% hObject    handle to edit3 (see GCBO)
% eventdata  reserved - to be defined in a future version of MATLAB
% handles    empty - handles not created until after all CreateFcns called

% Hint: edit controls usually have a white background on Windows.
%       See ISPC and COMPUTER.
if ispc && isequal(get(hObject,'BackgroundColor'), get(0,'defaultUicontrolBackgroundColor'))
    set(hObject,'BackgroundColor','white');
end



function edit4_Callback(hObject, eventdata, handles)
% hObject    handle to edit4 (see GCBO)
% eventdata  reserved - to be defined in a future version of MATLAB
% handles    structure with handles and user data (see GUIDATA)

% Hints: get(hObject,'String') returns contents of edit4 as text
%        str2double(get(hObject,'String')) returns contents of edit4 as a double


% --- Executes during object creation, after setting all properties.
function edit4_CreateFcn(hObject, eventdata, handles)
% hObject    handle to edit4 (see GCBO)
% eventdata  reserved - to be defined in a future version of MATLAB
% handles    empty - handles not created until after all CreateFcns called

% Hint: edit controls usually have a white background on Windows.
%       See ISPC and COMPUTER.
if ispc && isequal(get(hObject,'BackgroundColor'), get(0,'defaultUicontrolBackgroundColor'))
    set(hObject,'BackgroundColor','white');
end



function edit5_Callback(hObject, eventdata, handles)
% hObject    handle to edit5 (see GCBO)
% eventdata  reserved - to be defined in a future version of MATLAB
% handles    structure with handles and user data (see GUIDATA)

% Hints: get(hObject,'String') returns contents of edit5 as text
%        str2double(get(hObject,'String')) returns contents of edit5 as a double


% --- Executes during object creation, after setting all properties.
function edit5_CreateFcn(hObject, eventdata, handles)
% hObject    handle to edit5 (see GCBO)
% eventdata  reserved - to be defined in a future version of MATLAB
% handles    empty - handles not created until after all CreateFcns called

% Hint: edit controls usually have a white background on Windows.
%       See ISPC and COMPUTER.
if ispc && isequal(get(hObject,'BackgroundColor'), get(0,'defaultUicontrolBackgroundColor'))
    set(hObject,'BackgroundColor','white');
end



function edit6_Callback(hObject, eventdata, handles)
% hObject    handle to edit6 (see GCBO)
% eventdata  reserved - to be defined in a future version of MATLAB
% handles    structure with handles and user data (see GUIDATA)

% Hints: get(hObject,'String') returns contents of edit6 as text
%        str2double(get(hObject,'String')) returns contents of edit6 as a double


% --- Executes during object creation, after setting all properties.
function edit6_CreateFcn(hObject, eventdata, handles)
% hObject    handle to edit6 (see GCBO)
% eventdata  reserved - to be defined in a future version of MATLAB
% handles    empty - handles not created until after all CreateFcns called

% Hint: edit controls usually have a white background on Windows.
%       See ISPC and COMPUTER.
if ispc && isequal(get(hObject,'BackgroundColor'), get(0,'defaultUicontrolBackgroundColor'))
    set(hObject,'BackgroundColor','white');
end



function edit7_Callback(hObject, eventdata, handles)
% hObject    handle to edit7 (see GCBO)
% eventdata  reserved - to be defined in a future version of MATLAB
% handles    structure with handles and user data (see GUIDATA)

% Hints: get(hObject,'String') returns contents of edit7 as text
%        str2double(get(hObject,'String')) returns contents of edit7 as a double


% --- Executes during object creation, after setting all properties.
function edit7_CreateFcn(hObject, eventdata, handles)
% hObject    handle to edit7 (see GCBO)
% eventdata  reserved - to be defined in a future version of MATLAB
% handles    empty - handles not created until after all CreateFcns called

% Hint: edit controls usually have a white background on Windows.
%       See ISPC and COMPUTER.
if ispc && isequal(get(hObject,'BackgroundColor'), get(0,'defaultUicontrolBackgroundColor'))
    set(hObject,'BackgroundColor','white');
end



function edit8_Callback(hObject, eventdata, handles)
% hObject    handle to edit8 (see GCBO)
% eventdata  reserved - to be defined in a future version of MATLAB
% handles    structure with handles and user data (see GUIDATA)

% Hints: get(hObject,'String') returns contents of edit8 as text
%        str2double(get(hObject,'String')) returns contents of edit8 as a double


% --- Executes during object creation, after setting all properties.
function edit8_CreateFcn(hObject, eventdata, handles)
% hObject    handle to edit8 (see GCBO)
% eventdata  reserved - to be defined in a future version of MATLAB
% handles    empty - handles not created until after all CreateFcns called

% Hint: edit controls usually have a white background on Windows.
%       See ISPC and COMPUTER.
if ispc && isequal(get(hObject,'BackgroundColor'), get(0,'defaultUicontrolBackgroundColor'))
    set(hObject,'BackgroundColor','white');
end



function edit9_Callback(hObject, eventdata, handles)
% hObject    handle to edit9 (see GCBO)
% eventdata  reserved - to be defined in a future version of MATLAB
% handles    structure with handles and user data (see GUIDATA)

% Hints: get(hObject,'String') returns contents of edit9 as text
%        str2double(get(hObject,'String')) returns contents of edit9 as a double


% --- Executes during object creation, after setting all properties.
function edit9_CreateFcn(hObject, eventdata, handles)
% hObject    handle to edit9 (see GCBO)
% eventdata  reserved - to be defined in a future version of MATLAB
% handles    empty - handles not created until after all CreateFcns called

% Hint: edit controls usually have a white background on Windows.
%       See ISPC and COMPUTER.
if ispc && isequal(get(hObject,'BackgroundColor'), get(0,'defaultUicontrolBackgroundColor'))
    set(hObject,'BackgroundColor','white');
end



function edit10_Callback(hObject, eventdata, handles)
% hObject    handle to edit10 (see GCBO)
% eventdata  reserved - to be defined in a future version of MATLAB
% handles    structure with handles and user data (see GUIDATA)

% Hints: get(hObject,'String') returns contents of edit10 as text
%        str2double(get(hObject,'String')) returns contents of edit10 as a double


% --- Executes during object creation, after setting all properties.
function edit10_CreateFcn(hObject, eventdata, handles)
% hObject    handle to edit10 (see GCBO)
% eventdata  reserved - to be defined in a future version of MATLAB
% handles    empty - handles not created until after all CreateFcns called

% Hint: edit controls usually have a white background on Windows.
%       See ISPC and COMPUTER.
if ispc && isequal(get(hObject,'BackgroundColor'), get(0,'defaultUicontrolBackgroundColor'))
    set(hObject,'BackgroundColor','white');
end



function edit11_Callback(hObject, eventdata, handles)
% hObject    handle to edit11 (see GCBO)
% eventdata  reserved - to be defined in a future version of MATLAB
% handles    structure with handles and user data (see GUIDATA)

% Hints: get(hObject,'String') returns contents of edit11 as text
%        str2double(get(hObject,'String')) returns contents of edit11 as a double


% --- Executes during object creation, after setting all properties.
function edit11_CreateFcn(hObject, eventdata, handles)
% hObject    handle to edit11 (see GCBO)
% eventdata  reserved - to be defined in a future version of MATLAB
% handles    empty - handles not created until after all CreateFcns called

% Hint: edit controls usually have a white background on Windows.
%       See ISPC and COMPUTER.
if ispc && isequal(get(hObject,'BackgroundColor'), get(0,'defaultUicontrolBackgroundColor'))
    set(hObject,'BackgroundColor','white');
end



function edit12_Callback(hObject, eventdata, handles)
% hObject    handle to edit12 (see GCBO)
% eventdata  reserved - to be defined in a future version of MATLAB
% handles    structure with handles and user data (see GUIDATA)

% Hints: get(hObject,'String') returns contents of edit12 as text
%        str2double(get(hObject,'String')) returns contents of edit12 as a double


% --- Executes during object creation, after setting all properties.
function edit12_CreateFcn(hObject, eventdata, handles)
% hObject    handle to edit12 (see GCBO)
% eventdata  reserved - to be defined in a future version of MATLAB
% handles    empty - handles not created until after all CreateFcns called

% Hint: edit controls usually have a white background on Windows.
%       See ISPC and COMPUTER.
if ispc && isequal(get(hObject,'BackgroundColor'), get(0,'defaultUicontrolBackgroundColor'))
    set(hObject,'BackgroundColor','white');
end



function edit13_Callback(hObject, eventdata, handles)
% hObject    handle to edit13 (see GCBO)
% eventdata  reserved - to be defined in a future version of MATLAB
% handles    structure with handles and user data (see GUIDATA)

% Hints: get(hObject,'String') returns contents of edit13 as text
%        str2double(get(hObject,'String')) returns contents of edit13 as a double


% --- Executes during object creation, after setting all properties.
function edit13_CreateFcn(hObject, eventdata, handles)
% hObject    handle to edit13 (see GCBO)
% eventdata  reserved - to be defined in a future version of MATLAB
% handles    empty - handles not created until after all CreateFcns called

% Hint: edit controls usually have a white background on Windows.
%       See ISPC and COMPUTER.
if ispc && isequal(get(hObject,'BackgroundColor'), get(0,'defaultUicontrolBackgroundColor'))
    set(hObject,'BackgroundColor','white');
end



function edit14_Callback(hObject, eventdata, handles)
% hObject    handle to edit14 (see GCBO)
% eventdata  reserved - to be defined in a future version of MATLAB
% handles    structure with handles and user data (see GUIDATA)

% Hints: get(hObject,'String') returns contents of edit14 as text
%        str2double(get(hObject,'String')) returns contents of edit14 as a double


% --- Executes during object creation, after setting all properties.
function edit14_CreateFcn(hObject, eventdata, handles)
% hObject    handle to edit14 (see GCBO)
% eventdata  reserved - to be defined in a future version of MATLAB
% handles    empty - handles not created until after all CreateFcns called

% Hint: edit controls usually have a white background on Windows.
%       See ISPC and COMPUTER.
if ispc && isequal(get(hObject,'BackgroundColor'), get(0,'defaultUicontrolBackgroundColor'))
    set(hObject,'BackgroundColor','white');
end



function edit15_Callback(hObject, eventdata, handles)
% hObject    handle to edit15 (see GCBO)
% eventdata  reserved - to be defined in a future version of MATLAB
% handles    structure with handles and user data (see GUIDATA)

% Hints: get(hObject,'String') returns contents of edit15 as text
%        str2double(get(hObject,'String')) returns contents of edit15 as a double


% --- Executes during object creation, after setting all properties.
function edit15_CreateFcn(hObject, eventdata, handles)
% hObject    handle to edit15 (see GCBO)
% eventdata  reserved - to be defined in a future version of MATLAB
% handles    empty - handles not created until after all CreateFcns called

% Hint: edit controls usually have a white background on Windows.
%       See ISPC and COMPUTER.
if ispc && isequal(get(hObject,'BackgroundColor'), get(0,'defaultUicontrolBackgroundColor'))
    set(hObject,'BackgroundColor','white');
end



function edit16_Callback(hObject, eventdata, handles)
% hObject    handle to edit16 (see GCBO)
% eventdata  reserved - to be defined in a future version of MATLAB
% handles    structure with handles and user data (see GUIDATA)


% --- Executes during object creation, after setting all properties.
function edit16_CreateFcn(hObject, eventdata, handles)
% hObject    handle to edit16 (see GCBO)
% eventdata  reserved - to be defined in a future version of MATLAB
% handles    empty - handles not created until after all CreateFcns called

% Hint: edit controls usually have a white background on Windows.
%       See ISPC and COMPUTER.
if ispc && isequal(get(hObject,'BackgroundColor'), get(0,'defaultUicontrolBackgroundColor'))
    set(hObject,'BackgroundColor','white');
end


% --- Executes on button press in GenerateSudoku.
function GenerateSudoku_Callback(hObject, eventdata, handles)
% hObject    handle to GenerateSudoku (see GCBO)
% eventdata  reserved - to be defined in a future version of MATLAB
% handles    structure with handles and user data (see GUIDATA)
global N
global M
v = randperm(4);
M = zeros(4,4);
M(randi(4),randi(4)) = v(randi(4));
S = sudoku(M);
M=S(:,:,randi(71));
N=zeros(4);
for i=1:1:8
    x= randi(4);
    y= randi(4);
    N(x,y)=M(x,y);
    i=i+1;
end
j=1;
for a=1:1:4
    for b=1:1:4
        Value(a,b)=N(a,b);
        thishandle = sprintf('edit%d',j);
        set(handles.(thishandle), 'String', Value(a,b));
        if Value(a,b)~=0
            thishandle = sprintf('edit%d',j);
            set(handles.(thishandle), 'BackgroundColor','yellow')
        end
        j=j+1;
    end
end

% --- Executes on button press in CheckAnswer.
function CheckAnswer_Callback(hObject, eventdata, handles)
% hObject    handle to CheckAnswer (see GCBO)
% eventdata  reserved - to be defined in a future version of MATLAB
% handles    structure with handles and user data (see GUIDATA)
global N
global M
S = sudoku(N);
k=1;
for c=1:1:4
    for d=1:1:4
        thishandle = sprintf('edit%d',k);
        T(c,d)=str2num(get(handles.(thishandle), 'String'));
        k=k+1;
    end
end
k=1;
for c=1:1:4
    for d=1:1:4
        if T(c,d)==M(c,d)
            thishandle = sprintf('edit%d',k);
            set(handles.(thishandle), 'BackgroundColor','green')
        else
            thishandle = sprintf('edit%d',k);
            set(handles.(thishandle), 'BackgroundColor','red')
        end
        k=k+1;
    end
end
tf =isequal(T,M);
if tf == 1
    f = msgbox('Kudos! Sudoku Solved. Want to try again? Press the Reset button to load another one.','Success');
else
   f = msgbox('Oops! Could not solve the Sudoku? Try Again.','Retry');
end


% --- Executes on button press in Reset.
function Reset_Callback(hObject, eventdata, handles)
% hObject    handle to Reset (see GCBO)
% eventdata  reserved - to be defined in a future version of MATLAB
% handles    structure with handles and user data (see GUIDATA)
close all
SudokuGUI

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About the author 

Aditya Chaudhari

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