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...


About Author

Robert Allison

The Graph Guy!

Robert has worked at SAS for over a quarter century, and his specialty is customizing graphs and maps - adding those little extra touches that help them answer your questions at a glance. His educational background is in Computer Science, and he holds a BS, MS, and PhD from NC State University.

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  2. Crossword puzzle and other games like Chess may be very helpful in playing our brain. As we have listen from our ancestors that as much as we play with our brain it will going to be more sharp.

  3. A fun exercise. I cheated on 3 or 4 answers though. One of which was 12 down, I'm embarrassed to admit.

    • Robert Allison
      Robert Allison on

      Sounds like you did pretty well! ... Perhaps if I create a puzzle every once in a while, I'll get better at it, and my readers will get used to my style of 'hints'! My goal is to create puzzles that people can complete! :)

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