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Description:

The Eight Queens Problem

by John Sigle

Can you place eight queens on a chess board so that no two are attacking each

other, that is, so that no two are on the same row, column, or diagonal? Yes,

it can be done! This program is an animated demonstration of an algorithm to

solve this problem. It is adapted from a program in the book ^1Algorithms + Data

^1Structures = Programs^0 by Niklaus Wirth, Prentice-Hall, 1976.

This program makes good use of recursion to search for a solution. It places

queens on the board column by column. In order to place eight queens safely on

the board, it places a queen safely in the first column and then tries to place

the seven remaining queens safely on the board. The latter problem (placing

seven queens safely) is the same problem as the original (placing eight queens)

only smaller in size. This leads to a recursive solution.

The program also illustrates backtracking, a method commonly used in

applications requiring searching, such as many areas of artificial intelligence.

When a "dead end" is reached (it is impossible to place any more of the

remaining queens safely) the most recently placed queen is removed from its

placement and advanced to a new position, if possible. If it cannot be advanced

then it is removed entirely and the next most recently placed queen is advanced,

and so on.

The choice of data structures in this program is also interesting. It does

not use a 2-dimensional array to represent the board as you might expect. The

most frequent task to be done by the program is testing to see if a position is

safe, that is, whether or not any queens lie on the same row or diagonal as that

position. The order of attempted queen placement (column by column) insures that

no queen lies on the same column. The data structures are chosen in order to

make the testing task convenient and efficient. "InRow" is a boolean array

whose i-th element indicates whether a queen has been placed in row i.

Similarly, "InDiag1" is a boolean array whose i-th element indicates whether a

queen has been placed in the i-th / diagonal (a / diagonal slants upward to the

right.) For the numbering scheme shown below, all the positions on a given /

diagonal have the same sum for their column and row numbers. This sum can be

used as an index to uniquely identify a / diagonal. These indices range from 2

thru 16. "InDiag2" records occupancy for the \ diagonals. The column number

minus the row number is constant for all positions on a \ diagonal, and is used

as an index, which ranges from -7 thru +7.

^C^I 1 * * * * * * * * ^N

^C^I 2 * * * * * * * * ^N

^C^I 3 * * * * * * * * ^N

^C^I 4 * * * * * * * * ^N

^C^I 5 * * * * * * * * ^N

^C^I 6 * * * * * * * * ^N

^C^I 7 * * * * * * * * ^N

^C^I 8 * * * * * * * * ^N

^C^I 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 ^N

This demo shows the PASCAL program as it executes as well as the data values

being manipulated. In addition it illustrates the program's actions on a chess

board. The demo can be run at varying speeds. It vividly shows the nature of

this searching method and relates it directly to the PASCAL program performing

the task.

You can control the speed by pressing a digit 0-9 (not the numeric keypad) at

any time. Nine is the highest speed while 1 is the lowest. A speed of 0 lets

you single-step through the program by pressing the spacebar twice to execute

each line of the program. Also, by pressing the + key you can switch between

two display modes: Full and Overview. In Full mode every line executed is

displayed. In Overview mode only selected lines, actually comment lines, are

displayed. In Overview mode the demo proceeds more quickly, yet shows the

highlights of the process. You can scroll the program display forward or

backward at any time by means of the up or down arrows. At the conclusion of

the demo the total number of positions tested and queen placements performed is

reported.

Cheats/Hints/Walkthroughs:

No posted cheats for this game yet.

Platform:

DOS

Genre:

Strategy/Tactics

Game year:

1986

ZX Spectrum ▷ 1988 | DOS ▷ 1990 | Amstrad CPC ▷ 1987 | DOS ▷ 1992 |

DOS ▷ 1991 | DOS ▷ 1992 | Commodore 64 ▷ 1988 | Amiga OS ▷ 1990 |