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Wordle’s best starting word found by YouTuber using math

3Blue1Brown came up with a clever program that solves more words than just Wordle’s

Austen Goslin (he/him) is an entertainment editor. He writes about the latest TV shows and movies, and particularly loves all things horror.

The search for Wordle’s best starting word has been going on for as long as the word game has been popular and everyone’s got their own solutions. But YouTuber Grant Sanderson, also known as 3Blue1Brown, released a video on Sunday where he shows his process for coming up with the best word, and the Wordle-solving program he created to help make every word just as perfect.

To get the easy thing out of the way first, Sanderson found that the best starting word is “crane,” but with a few caveats.

Sanderson came to this conclusion using simulations of various first words, with optimal follow ups, to see which averaged the fastest answers. This means that to match his results, you’d need to pick the perfect second word too, based on what you learned from using “crane.” This isn’t exactly easy, but a good baseline might be to think of a word like “sloth,” which includes frequently used letters that aren’t in “crane.” Between these two words, you should be left with a pretty short list of possibilities for your third guess.

But even if all you wanted were a few Wordle tips, Sanderson’s video itself is excellent for plenty of other reasons. While Wordle is its framework, it also doubles a great lesson on information theory that’s broken down into easy-to-understand terms, but never oversimplified.

Sanderson also explains how he made his puzzle-solving program and how it takes into account word frequency, using a massive list of nearly 13,000 five-letter words (far more than the actual list of words in Wordle), and gives you its best guess based on the list. He also explains the way that the program determines uncertainty and exactly how much information you get from each of its optimized guesses.

That being said, if all you want is a video that will probably improve your Wordle score, and make each of your own guesses a little better, it’s great for that too.

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