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The maths of simple two-player games

Physics lunchtime lecture series, Sheffield Hallam University (31/01/2023).

Game theory asks how we can play games optimally. A simple example game is Nim, where players take turns to remove objects from one of several piles and the player who takes the last object is the winner. Other games involve players with different objectives trying to achieve their own goals. Combinatorial game theory is an area of maths that allows analysis of two-player games like these. It gives us an arithmetic of games that allows us to work out optimal strategies and even to play several games simultaneously! This talk will give a brief introduction to this fun application of maths.