Researchers at the University of St Andrews are challenging people to claim $1m (£770,000) by finding the solution to a “simple” chess puzzle using a computer programme.
Computer programmers would be able to pocket the cash, which is offered by the Clay Mathematics Institute in America, if they found an efficient solution to the famous eight queens puzzle.
The puzzle requires a player to place eight chess queens on an 8×8 chessboard so that no two queens are threatening each other.
For an 8×8 chessboard, the solution requires that the queens don’t share the same row, column, or diagonal – the directions in which chess queens can move.
Originally devised in 1850, the 8×8 puzzle has been solved by humans – but once the size of the chess board increases enough, computer programmes have found it impossible to solve.
A paper published in the Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research concludes that the team led by Professor Ian Gent at the University of St Andrews noted a solution would provide enormous benefits to the world.
Professsor Gent said: “If you could write a computer programme that could solve the problem really fast, you could adapt it to solve many of the most important problems that affect us all daily.
“This includes trivial challenges like working out the largest group of your Facebook friends who don’t know each other, or very important ones like cracking the codes that keep all our online transactions safe.”