By user12607856 on May 02, 2006
Now I knew what he meant, but my brain started to think about word games. Just how many intermediate words would you need (changing one letter at a time) to get from ACER to BORG?
I decided to see if there was any software out there to help me. I went a-googling. The problem initially was knowing what you call this sort of thing. After a bit of searching, I found out that they are called Word Chains or sometimes Link Letters.
After about another five minutes, I came across exactly what I was looking for. Ruby Quiz #44 is all about word chains. I downloaded the solutions, and as I didn't particulary care exactly how fast it solved this, I just picked the first one from Adam Sheely.
I initially used a copy of the standard Unix dictionary of words (to which I added "acer"), but it didn't find a solution:
% ruby wordchain -d /export/home/richb/wordchain/words acer borg Wordchain Finder Connecting acer -> borg nil
I needed a bigger dictionary. Back to googling. I found the Windows & Macintosh Dictionary Search And Creation Software webpage, and downloaded the Macintosh version of Dictionary Genesis. I unpacked it and extracted a much larger English dictionary and copied it over to my Solaris machine.
Now when I rerun the wordchain program, I get
% ruby wordchain -d /export/home/richb/wordchain/English_Dictionary acer borg Wordchain Finder Connecting acer -> borg acer aper aped sped sued surd surg burg borg
So the answer to my original question is 7.