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Playing Games *

Time Required Average (6-10 days)
*Note: This is an abbreviated Project Idea, without notes to start your background research, a specific list of materials, or a procedure for how to do the experiment. You can identify abbreviated Project Ideas by the asterisk at the end of the title. If you want a Project Idea with full instructions, please pick one without an asterisk.


Almost all of the games we play are based on math in some way or another. Card games, board games, and computer games are designed using statistics, probabilities, and algorithms. Begin by reading about games and game theory. Then you can choose your favorite game and investigate the mathematical principles behind how it works. Can combinatorial game theory help you to win two-player games of perfect knowledge such as go, chess, or checkers? (Weisstein, 2006; Watkins, 2004) In a multi-player game like Dots and Boxes, does the first player have an advantage? Can you formulate a winning strategy against an opponent? In single-player games can you beat the game with an algorithm? Can you invent your own game using mathematical concepts? Can you describe the math behind traditional or cultural games? (McCoy, 2004) Artificial Intelligence: Teaching the Computer to Play Tic-Tac-Toe

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Science Buddies Staff. "Playing Games" Science Buddies. Science Buddies, 30 June 2014. Web. 24 Oct. 2014 <http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_ideas/Math_p033.shtml>

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Science Buddies Staff. (2014, June 30). Playing Games. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_ideas/Math_p033.shtml

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Last edit date: 2014-06-30


  • McCoy, L. P., 2004. "Project Potpourri: Implementing Standards-Based Instruction," Wake Forest University. [accessed: 5/1/06] http://www.wfu.edu/~mccoy/mprojects.pdf
  • Watkins, J., 2004. Across the Board: The Mathematics of Chessboard Problems. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  • Weisstein, E.W., 2006 "Games." From MathWorld—A Wolfram Web Resource. [accessed: 5/1/06] http://mathworld.wolfram.com/topics/Games.html

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