SUMS Conference at James Madison University, October 4, 2014

Opening Speaker: Gywneth Whieldon

Hood College

Title: A Combinatorial Gaming Zoo

Abstract: Combinatorial games, sometimes called games of no chance or games of perfect information, are two player games in which players take turns making “moves” to change the initial position of the game. Unlike many games, here both players have perfect information about the positions and moves available in the game, and no chance is involved in a move. Games of this sort appear naturally in the “wilds” of mathematics, in areas ranging from graph theory to knots, tangles, groups and rings. In this talk we’ll explore some of this strange zoo of algebraic and combinatorial games, introducing you as explorers to exotic and fun mathematics along the way. Come ready with to try your strategic abilities against your fellow mathematics students too!


Bio:  tba 

Robert J. Lang is recognized as one of the foremost origami artists in the world as well as 
a pioneer in computational origami and the development of formal design algorithms for 
folding. With a Ph.D. in Applied Physics from Caltech, he has, during the course of work 
at NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Spectra Diode Laboratories, and JDS Uniphase, 
authored or co-authored over 80 papers and 45 patents in lasers and optoelectronics as 
well as authoring, co-authoring, or editing 12 books and a CD-ROM on origami. He is 
a full-time artist and consultant on origami and its applications to engineering problems 
but keeps his toes in the world of lasers, most recently as the Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE 
Journal of Quantum Electronics from 2007–2010. He received Caltech’s highest honor, 
the Distiguished Alumni Award, in 2009 and was elected a Fellow of the American 
Mathematical Society in 2013.