Jonas Peters and Nicolai Meinshausen

Apr 2, 2021

The Raven's Hat

Fallen Pictures, Rising Sequences, and Other Mathematical Games

MIT Press 2021

Games have been of interest to mathematicians almost since mathematics became a subject. In fact, entire branches of mathematics have arisen simply to analyze certain games. The Raven's Hat: Fallen Pictures, Rising Sequences, and Other Mathematical Games (MIT Press, 2021) does something very different, and something that I think listeners will find intriguing – it uses games in order to explain mathematical concepts.

The Raven's Hat presents a series of engaging games that seem unsolvable--but can be solved when they are translated into mathematical terms. How can players find their ID cards when the cards are distributed randomly among twenty boxes? By applying the theory of permutations. How can a player guess the color of her own hat when she can only see other players' hats? Hamming codes, which are used in communication technologies. Like magic, mathematics solves the apparently unsolvable. The games allow readers, including university students or anyone with high school-level math, to experience the joy of mathematical discovery.

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