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About Us

Beginning in the Fall of 1998, a team of computer scientists at Duke University created a computer program capable of solving tough American-style crossword puzzles. The full system, which runs on a collection of a dozen computers, averages 98% letters correct on puzzles from USA Today, The LA Times, and The NY Times, requiring approximately 15 minutes per puzzle.

This program, named Proverb (The Probabilistic Cruciverbalist), informally competed in the 1999 American Crossword Tournament and would have placed ahead of 108 of the 255 human participants. The Duke team presented their findings at the annual conference of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence in Orlando, FL this summer, and received the "best paper award" for their efforts.

Building on this puzzle-solving technology, several of the researchers created this web site. The crossword clue search is designed to help human solvers when they are stuck on a puzzle.

The system accepts crossword clues and answer patterns (Serpent [?a?t?????k?]) and quickly returns a scored list of suggestions ("gartersnake", "rattlesnake"). It can help on ambigious clues (Greenish blue [????]: "teal", "aqua", "cyan", "nile") as well as highly specific ones (Designer Schiaparelli [????]: "elsa").

We hope you enjoy the site!