7
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For any word we define it's alphabetic distance to be the total amount of places in the alphabet you need to traverse between each letter.

Example: WORD has a score of 25

  • 8 character distance between W and O
  • 3 character distance between O and R
  • 14 character distance between R and D

which totals to 25.

This puzzle is to find the highest scoring English words (at least according to https://www.merriam-webster.com/) for a word of length N where N = 3, 4, 5, 6 (or more if you're brave enough)

For the N = 2 case its easy to see that ZA is the optimal solution. My best quick attempt for N = 3 is AYE:

  • 2: ZA 25 points
  • 3: AYE 44 points
  • 4: ?
  • 5: ?
  • 6: ?

Good luck!

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  • $\begingroup$ Are you sure you have the optimal solutions in your mind? If not, this will be flagged as too broad. $\endgroup$ – Duck Nov 22 at 15:03
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I do not but wasn't aware you needed to. Was inspired by a similar open ended question puzzling.stackexchange.com/questions/91026/… $\endgroup$ – Plog Nov 22 at 15:07
  • $\begingroup$ What counts as a word, exactly? Without specifying this, this question is opinion-based. $\endgroup$ – Deusovi Nov 22 at 16:29
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah that's a good point. I've added the accepted source as merriam webster for this challenge since it has been used as reference in the current answers. $\endgroup$ – Plog Nov 22 at 17:46
  • $\begingroup$ Can they be trademarked? What if the words have capital letters in them. $\endgroup$ – JL2210 Nov 23 at 1:46
6
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Slightly higher score for

N=5

ZAYAT, 92 points

N=6

SAWBWA, 104 points

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  • $\begingroup$ Amazing finds! I've tightened up what defines a word in the question which disqualifies the N=5 but that N=6 will take some beating. Nice find! $\endgroup$ – Plog Nov 22 at 17:48
4
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I used the dictionary found at this github link: https://github.com/dwyl/english-words. I took a text file form the github link that had 370099 words in it and wrote an R script that calculates the score for every word in the list, and the rest was just a matter of filtering the results. At time of posting there was not a "no-computers" tag, though I imagine it would have been appropriate.

R function for calculating score:

require(stringr) #Required for strsplit function

score<-function(word){
  #Splits word into a vector of its indiidual characters and matches them
  # with the index of each letter from the built in letters vector.
  numbers<-match(strsplit(word,split="")[[1]],letters)

  #initialize your score
  sum<-0

  # for loop runs through numbers to calculate score 
  for(i in 1:(length(numbers)-1)){
    if(length(numbers)==1){sum<-0}else{
    sum<-sum+abs(numbers[i]-numbers[i+1])
    }
  }
return(sum)
}

Alternative N=3

ZAX, 48 points, same score as YAY already answered.

N=5

ZAYAT 92 points (not Merriam Webster approved)

N=6

YAZATA 112 points (not Merriam Webster approved)

N=7

LAYAWAY 127 points

N=8

LAYAWAYS 133 points

N=9

GRAVEYARD 141 points

N=10

GRAVEYARDS 156 points

N=11

TARATANTARA 163 points

N=12

SCRAPERBOARD 161 points

N=13

OVERDRAMATIZE 174 points

N=14

BUREAUCRATIZES 191 points

N=15

VASCULARIZATION 198 points

N=16

PARAMETERIZATION 200 POINTS

N=17

BUREAUCRATIZATION 218 points

Edit: More words.

N=18

HYPERBRACHYCRANIAL 214 points

N=19

OVERARGUMENTATIVELY 226 points (not Merriam Webster approved)

N=20

MAGNETOHYDRODYNAMICS 210 POINTS

N=21

iNTERNATIONALIZATIONS 204 POINTS

N=22

HEXAHYDROXYCYCLOHEXANE 269 points (not Merriam Webster approved)

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  • $\begingroup$ I was in the middle of doing this, but you beat me to it! Well done. $\endgroup$ – Erik Nov 22 at 18:27
  • $\begingroup$ I quite like that someone did this as a software developer myself, so I wouldn't have wanted no-computers tag anyway! $\endgroup$ – Plog Nov 25 at 10:01
3
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N = 3

YAY, 48 points

N = 4

YAYA, 72 points

N = 5

YAYAS, 90 points

N = 6 (I'm sure this isn't optimal but I don't have time right now to search for something better)

AVATAR, 97 points

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  • $\begingroup$ Nice work. The 6 definitely looks promising. Don't know how I missed that 3 on my quick example attempt! $\endgroup$ – Plog Nov 22 at 15:24
2
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N=3:

Enter word: zax
Alphabet travel value: 48

C program to calculate alphabet travel value:

#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>

int alphabet_travel(char *s)
{
    int c = 0;
    while(s[0] && s[1])
    {
        c += abs(s[1] - s[0]);
        s++;
    }
    return c;
}

int main(void)
{
    char s[7] = { 0 };
    fputs("Enter word: ", stdout);
    fflush(stdout);
    scanf("%6s", s);
    printf("Alphabet travel value: %d\n", alphabet_travel(s));
    return 0;
}
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0
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3 letters:

48: zax, yay

4 letters:

72: yaya

5 letters:

90: yayas

6 letters:

104: sawbwa

7 letters:

127: layaway

8 letters:

133: layaways

9 letters:

141: graveyard

10 letters:

156: graveyards

11 letters:

167: hydrazoates

12 letters:

171: vascularizes

13 letters:

177: bureaucratize

14 letters:

191: bureaucratizes

15 letters:

198: vascularization

16 letters:

203: vascularizations

17 letters:

218: bureaucratization

18 letters:

223: bureaucratizations

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-1
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N=45

A whopping 325 points from: Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis -"A lung disease caused by inhaling very fine ash and sand dust." ---OED

Also:

The protein referred to as "Titin" has a proper name, which is ~189,819 letters long... I would like to claim my 1 billion 1,937,678 points for this word please.

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  • $\begingroup$ Sorry, but Titin's score has an upper bound of 4,745,475 points, but it's less since that score would be alternating As and Zs. $\endgroup$ – Thomas Markov Nov 22 at 19:35
  • $\begingroup$ I've calculated the score for Titin: 1,937,678. $\endgroup$ – Thomas Markov Nov 22 at 19:42
  • $\begingroup$ @ThomasMarkov Thanks for calculating the value! $\endgroup$ – David Robie Nov 22 at 20:46
  • $\begingroup$ I get 319 for pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. $\endgroup$ – JL2210 Nov 23 at 2:03

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