Author: Chenghuiyun Xu

I have to admit, I came in late to this presentation. I had to eat lunch! But because author Chenghuiyun Xu was so prepared and well spoken, I quickly caught up. Well, as much as a Theatre/English person who never studied much math can catch up.

Xu’s project was on the game Nim, and the game theory surrounding it. She showed us different mathematics that would ensure you were a winner in this game. She asked, “Is there always a winning strategy?” In the game Nim, the answer is yes.

Xu, however, went on to create her own version of the game called Meow Game. In Meow Game, the first four rules are the same:

* Two piles of chips

* Each move consists of selecting one pile in one of the piles and removing chips from it

* Can only remove one or two chips each time in the selected pile

* The player who removes the last chip wins

She added three more rules that changed the game in a way where one’s mathematical strategy might be different:

* Three players take turns to move

* The previous player to the winner is called the runner up and wins half prize of winner

* The next player to winner is the loser and has no prize

In layman’s terms, the strategy to this game changes slightly. Instead of only focusing on the win, think to yourself, if I can’t win the whole thing, then I should make sure the person to my left is the winner, so I can win half of their prize. The goal is to determine which position is a winning position for which player and then to determine the winning strategy after we know which player can win the game.

Math

I’ve attached a photo here, so you can see how Xu showed us the complicated mathematics she had to do to figure all these strategies out. Needless to say, I was impressed. And it made me realize how important SpARC is at ASC. I hope every student takes the opportunity not only to come to SpARC, but also to go to presentations that are outside of their discipline. Not only was I interested in her topic, I understood a lot more than I thought I would! It’s a treat to try something new – thank you SpARC!

P.S. I will not be challenging Chenghuiyun Xu to a game of Nim any time soon.