A. Ross Eckler


There is little question that the crossword is the most popular type of word puzzle in both England and America. Thousands are solved every year in newspapers and magazines by people who are unaware that the field of recreational linguistics stretches far beyond these limits. The cognitive processes that people use to solve word puzzles are of interest to both psychologists and computer programmers: what is human problem-solving behavior? can it be imitated by a computer? It is obvious that a computer is much faster and more accurate than a human being in repetitive arithmetic calculations or in list-sorting. However, it is not clear how a computer should be programmed to emulate (and, perhaps, improve upon) more creative activities such as playing chess, proving mathematical theorems, writing poetry, or translating one language into another.