A Statistical Crossword Puzzle to Exercise Your Brain

I recently read a very interesting article describing how analytics is being used to detect cheating/copying/re-use in crossword puzzle creation, in some of the major news publications. This inspired me to try my hand at creating a totally new & unique crossword puzzle ... of course using SAS software! :)

My grandmother was a retired English teacher, and she loved to go through the local newspaper and mark all the incorrect spelling and grammar with a red pen, and then solve the crossword puzzle. But I was never much into crossword puzzles -- I think I might have tried one or two when I was young, and never completely solved them. My complaint (or 'excuse') was that they used obscure words that I'd never heard of, and their clues were sometimes nonsensical.

So I decided to create a crossword puzzle using words that people familiar with statistics & analytics could relate to, and provide clues that were a bit more on-point (or at least hopefully clever).

So I dug out my good old colored grid code (that I had previously used to create a Pikachu, and a voter graph), and decided how I would structure my data to most easily plot on the grid, and in about 1/2 a day I came up with the following crossword puzzle grid:

Statistical crossword puzzle

Click the image above to see the interactive version, where you can hover your mouse over the boxes to see the 'hints' (if you have a mouse), or scroll down below the crossword to see the hints in a text table below it. My crossword is just a simple png file, so it won't let you enter text -- you'll have to either print the file and fill it in with a pen, or copy the png file and scribble on it using an image editor like Paint.

I created my crossword using Proc Gmap and annotate, followed by a Proc Print table of the hints. Note that my crossword is the 'lazy' version, and the dark/non-letter boxes are not laid out in a symmetrical design like the major newspapers & magazines typically have. But as long as you're a statistician or analyst, and not a crossword puzzle aficionado, I think you'll have a lot of fun with it!

Check back in a few days, and I'll post the solution...

This content was reposted from SAS Learning Post. Go there to see the original.

Robert Allison, The Graph Guy!, SAS

Robert Allison has worked at SAS for more than 20 years and is perhaps the foremost expert in creating custom graphs using SAS/GRAPH. His educational background is in computer science, and he holds a BS, MS, and PhD from North Carolina State University. He is the author of several conference papers, has won a few graphic competitions, and has written a book calledSAS/GRAPH: Beyond the Basics.

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Re: Minus five points
  • 10/8/2016 3:55:53 PM

@kq4ym I could mark up our entire local paper relatively quickly these days! The paper's quality is far below what it once was. I think I can understand why grandma might want to correct the content...

Re: Minus five points
  • 10/8/2016 12:49:27 PM

Pretty clever puzzle! My father was a big crossword puzzle solver and would enjoy the challenge of this one. Interesting how folks still look through newspapers to find errors!

Minus five points
  • 9/29/2016 10:09:31 PM

I really like the idea of a statistical crossword puzzle -- I'm equally facinated by your grandmother's work fixing all that was wrong the local paper. She would have a lot of changes to mark up in my local paper!

Minus five points
  • 9/29/2016 10:08:49 PM

I really like the idea of a statistical crossword puzzle -- I'm equally facinated by your grandmother's work fixing all that was wrong the local paper. She would have a lot of changes to mark up in my local paper!

Crossword Solution
  • 9/29/2016 2:51:34 PM

In case you're stuck on a word, here's the solution:




Proper English
  • 9/29/2016 12:57:26 PM

Robert, describing your Grandmother's battle with the newspaper reminds me of a nun I had in the seventh grade. She actually had us go through news articles to discover spelling and grammar errors. Very effective in many ways, as it taught to question beyond the meir words being used.

Re: Can I type in?
  • 9/29/2016 8:33:11 AM

I give some hints for that in the blog! :)

Can I type in?
  • 9/29/2016 8:31:56 AM

How can I type in my answers right on the screen?

Re: Lake Wobegon
  • 9/29/2016 7:27:28 AM

I was hoping somebody would get that one! :)

Lake Wobegon
  • 9/28/2016 11:18:35 PM

You best hint is about Garrison Keillor's show. I'm sure many analysts recognize and remember his famous intro.