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Try this beautiful problem from Singapore Mathematics Olympiad, SMO, 2011 based on Permutation.

Permutation Problem (SMO Entrance)

A $4 \times 4$ Sudoku grid is filled with digits so that each column , each row and each of the four $2 \times 2$ sub grids that composes the grid contains all of the digits from 1 to 4. For example

• 288
• 155
• 160
• 201

Key Concepts

Permutations & Combinations

Sudoku

Set Theory

But try the problem first…

Source

Challenges and Thrills – Pre – College Mathematics

Try with Hints

First hint

If you really get stuck in this problem here is the first hint to do that:

At 1st let’s consider the sub grids of $2 \times 2$ filled with 1-4 ( 1, 2 , 3 ,4)

If a,b,c,d are all distinct , and there are no other numbers to place in x . If {a,b} = {c,d} then again a’,b’,c,d are all distinct , and no other number can be possible for x’.

We need to understand that the choices we have ,

{a,a’} = {1,2} , {b,b’} = {3,4}, {c,c’} = {2,4} and {d,d’} = {1,3}

Among these choices $2^4 = 16$ choices 4 of them are impossible – {a,b} = {c,d} = {1,4} or {2,3} and

{a,b} = {1,4} and {c,d} = {2,3} and {a,b} = {2,3} and {c,d} = {1,4}

Try rest….

Second Hint

Now for each remaining case a’,b’,c’ and d’ are uniquely determined so

{x} = {1,2,3,4} – {a,b} $\cup$ {c,d}

{y} = {1,2,3,4} – {a,b} $\cup$ {c’,d’}

{x’} = {1,2,3,4} – {a’,b’} $\cup$ {c,d}

{y’} = {1,2,3,4} – {a’,b’} $\cup$ {c’,d’}

Final Step

In final hint :

There are 4! = 24 permutation in the left top grid we can find. So total 12 * 24 = 288 possible 4$\times$ 4 Sudoku grids can be found.