Coloquium Friday, March 18: Dr. Alex Lyford, Middlebury College

Join us on Friday at 3 PM in 103A Walker Hall to hear Alex Lyford speak on...

Math, Stats, and Board Games

Abstract: Board games have come a long way since the first board game—The Royal Game of Ur—was developed nearly 5,000 years ago in ancient Mesopotamia. Reaching nearly $3 billion in revenue worldwide, board games of all types are becoming more commonplace. In this talk, we’ll dissect several modern board games, including Camel Up, Ticket to Ride, and Settlers of Catan using a combination of mathematics, statistics, and programming. We’ll look at different strategies in these games at both a macro and micro level to decide how to make an optimal move, should it exist. In addition, we’ll learn more about topics like expected value, probability distributions, and graph theory in the context of board games. Finally, we’ll use our newfound knowledge to assess a board game’s scoring structure to determine if multiple strategies are viable, all while asking ourselves—why do we play board games anyway?
About the Speaker: Alex Lyford is an Assistant Professor of Statistics at Middlebury College in Vermont. He received a Ph.D. in Statistics from the University of Georgia, and his research areas of interest are machine learning, eye-tracking data, text analysis, and the mathematics of board games. Alex's hobbies include soccer, hiking, and playing games.

Published: Mar 14, 2022 9:53am