Wordle from a maths perspective

Wordle is still taking the Internet by storm despite NYT owning it and keeping it free and ad free (for now). Mathematician and “wordplay fan” Ali Lloyd voiced his opinions on the game and its mathematical techniques including frequency analysis and substitution ciphers:

Wordle is very similar to Mastermind, except it uses the alphabet as the ‘alphabet’, and English words as the ‘words’, and you only get 6 guesses. It also has a consistent version, where you have to use the previous clues marked as correct in subsequent guesses – in Wordle this is called ‘Hard mode’. Hard mode Wordle is arguably harder than Consistent Mastermind as your guess has to fit the pattern and also be a valid word. On the other hand, this pushes you to solve more directly.

Plainly the uniformity of Mastermind does not exist in Wordle – ARERE ((Spenser) backward, behind) is probably a better opening guess than XYLYL (a chemical compound found in coal-tar). Indeed, while it would be easier to come up with an algorithm for solving anything’s-a-word Wordle, it would not be much fun at all to actually play.

And if you need some good starting words? Ali has that covered too. But you might not want to look at that list if it will spoil your fun.

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