GeekDad Puzzle of the Week Answer: Electoral Map

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The map coloring puzzle is a popular one in academia, used as an example of a task that humans do well and computers do poorly. That’s partly because there are so many possibilities and a change in Monrovia ripples through the system, creating necessary changes in faraway Zanzibar. Or wherever. In fact ANY MAP can be filled in with only four colors so that no two countries (or states) share the same color. The human brain has some sort of cool heuristic advantage over computers in this task, but what exactly is the human rule of thumb that allows us to dominate the map coloring puzzle is still up for study.

Let’s just say that the GeekDad brain doesn’t yet function wholly like a computer — there were a number of correct answers this week and, as most of you noticed, there were many possible solutions. The crux and so the best starting point (as most of you also saw) is that pesky Four Corners — the meeting of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. From there, the colors ripple outward.

Here are a couple answers:














And the contestant randomly chosen from the GeekDad random generator hat is…David P! Congrats on winning a $50 ThinkGeek gift certificate! Please tune in Monday for another installment of PotW.

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