The Mathematics of SET (and other games) Winter 2022

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Class Details

SET is a popular game where players try to find certain collections of three cards, which share or fail to share properties like color, shape, and number. This seemingly simple game gives rise to an incredible variety of mathematical ideas. These range from counting and probability, to the behavior of lines in strange models of geometry. Throughout this class we’ll study these mathematical ideas, as well as those coming from other mathematically interesting games (and we’ll of course play lots of SET and other games!). Previous experience with SET or with mathematics is not required! We will be meeting for 6 hours per week in class; this time will be split between discussions and lectures covering the mathematics of SET, and Board Game Labs where students explore other games with intricate mathematics behind them. Outside-of-class work will include readings (from the book “The Joy of SET” and short mathematical readings relevant to other board games), learning and practicing other mathematically relevant board games, working on small problem sets, and as a final project either designing a new game based on mathematical ideas, or studying an existing game through a mathematical lens. These final projects will be showcased in a board game night at the end of Winter Study.
The Class: Format: lecture
Limit: 16
Grading: pass/fail only
Requirements/Evaluation: final project or presentation; problem sets
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: preference given to students with less mathematical background
Materials/Lab Fee: none
Attributes: EXPE Experiential Education Courses

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