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From "Dennis E. Hamilton" <>
Subject RE: [PROPOSAL] "difficulty" field for Bugzilla
Date Fri, 26 Oct 2012 15:52:55 GMT


Knuth originally published his scale for difficulty of exercises in 1968.  It is in the Notes
on Exercises in every edition since, including the 1997 version that I use now.

I modified it as you can see.  

Also, Knuth has a way to indicate when there were special skills needed along with the level
of difficulty.  HM for higher-math, M for mathematically oriented.  I suppose one could use
a CS (computer-science) difficulty as well as Advanced CS or similar prefix.  There are problems
where one needs to prove that an algorithm is sound and also analysis with regard to the performance
of an algorithm, when one is required.  

 - Dennis

Note: Although Fermat's famous theorem was proved since, Knuth has reduced it in the first
4 exercises in the book from [HM50] to [HM45] because it is still difficult to know how to
do that proof even now.

-----Original Message-----
From: Andre Fischer [] 
Sent: Friday, October 26, 2012 00:48
Subject: Re: [PROPOSAL] "difficulty" field for Bugzilla

On 24.10.2012 22:28, Dennis E. Hamilton wrote:
> @Regina,
>   Yes, Wizard is a reference to the level of mastery that a solver must
> possess, and is one of those "which one of these words does not belong"
> solutions.
> There is a well-known *logarithmic* difficulty scale that has been used
> over 40 years for problem difficulty.  It might be worth adapting:
>   (after unknown),
>    00 easy - immediately solvable by someone willing to do it
>    10 simple - takes minutes
>    20 medium, average - quarter hour
>    30 moderate, an evening
>    40 difficult, challenging, non-trivial (term project, GSoC...)
>    50 unsolved, deep, requires a breakthrough, research
>       (PhD dissertation)
>    60 intractable (that I just made up - probably not something that
>       is technically feasible regardless of skill, Nobel Prize,
>       P = NP, etc.)

Is this not similar to what Knuth used (uses) in his "Art of Computer 
Programming" series?


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