**A** Le Monde mathematical puzzle once again in a Sudoku mode:

In annxntable, all integers between 1 and n appear n times. Ifmaxdenotes the maximum over the numbers of different integers on all rows and columns, what is the minimum value of max whenn=7? whenn=11?

**I** tried to solve it by the following R code (in a pre-breakfast mode in my Reykjavik Airbnb flat!):

#pseudoku n=7 T=10^4 vals=rep(1:n,n) minmax=n for (t in 1:T){ psudo=matrix(sample(vals),ncol=n) maxc=maxr=max(sapply(apply(psudo,1,unique),length)) if (maxc<minmax) maxr=max(sapply(apply(psudo,2,unique),length)) minmax=min(minmax,max(maxc,maxr)) }

but later realised that (a) the

sapply(apply(psudo,1,unique),length)

failed when all rows or all columns had the same number of unique terms and (b) I did not have to run the whole matrix:

vals=rep(1:n,n) minmax=n for (t in 1:T){ psudo=matrix(sample(vals),ncol=n) maxc=max(length(unique(psudo[1,])),length(unique(psudo[,1]))) i=1 while((i<n)&(maxc<minmax)){ i=i+1 maxc=max(maxc, length(unique(psudo[i,])), length(unique(psudo[,i])))} minmax=min(minmax,maxc) }

gaining a factor of 3 in the R execution. With this random exploration, the minimum value returned was 2,2,2,3,4,5,5,6,7,8 for n=2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11. Half-hearted simulating annealing during one of the sessions of AISTATS 2014 did not show any difference…