300 Enigma Analysis
4 April 2013
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There is now a continuous span of 300 Enigma puzzles starting from Enigma 1445 (June 2007) to the most recently published puzzle, Enigma 1743 (April 2013) on the site. So I thought it would be nice to have a little analysis.
By my own subjective measure there have been 21 “Notable Enigmas” during that period (for me a “Notable Enigma” is one that involves a significant and enjoyable programming challenge).
Here’s the interval between those Notable Enigmas, plotted as a bar chart. (Note that the top bar is not an interval between Notable Enigmas, rather the period since the last one).
On average there is a Notable Enigma every 14.3 puzzles [*], but they are not evenly distributed. For instance, when I started the Enigmatic Code site (November 2011), we’d recently had two Notable Enigmas quite close together (Enigma 1661 and Enigma 1669), but before that we’d had a “drought” lasting for 51 puzzles (there are 51 editions of New Scientist published per year), and before that Enigma 1589 broke the longest recorded drought of 53 puzzles.
Looking back I had in mind the pleasant era between Enigma 1491 (April 2008) and Enigma 1520 (November 2008) when I set up the site. In that period we never had to wait longer than 8 weeks for a challenging programming puzzle to come along.
We are currently in the third longest recorded “drought”. There have been 32 puzzles published since Enigma 1712 (August 2012). But that’s not to say some recent puzzles haven’t been interesting – just not much of a programming challenge. For instance:
I hope we soon end the drought have a new addition to the Notable Enigmas at the top of the list, but in the meantime I’m sure I shall continue to unearth gems hidden in the back catalogue of Enigma puzzles. Or I shall have to become less picky!
[*] There are also an additional 78 Enigma puzzles on this site from 1979 and 1980, when the puzzle was in its infancy. These have contributed 7 Notable Enigmas over 70 puzzles, so at the beginning Enigma had a faster rate, with Notable Enigmas turning up every 10 puzzles.