Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Update on Upcoming CGT Events

Integers 2013 has been confirmed and there is a possible conference next year in China!  I figured it was best to provide an update on all the upcoming CGT academic events:

Games at Dal(housie): June 4-7, 2013.  Talks will be held on June 5 (tentative) as part of the Canadian Mathematical Society meeting in Halifax, NS.

Integers 2013: The Erdos Centennial Conference in Combinatorial Number Theory: October 24-27, 2013.  This will be held at the University of West Georgia in Carrolton, GA.  The website for this is not yet up, but will hopefully be up soon.

Fraser Stewart is already planning ahead for a conference in China next year.  He wrote to me recently:

My name is Fraser Stewart, and I work for Xi'An Jiaotong University in China.  For those of you who don't know, Xi'An is a very historic and famous city in China, it is most famous for being home to the terracotta warriors.  I'm currently trying to arrange a conference/workshop here on combinatorial game theory, around this time next year.

The university has already said they are happy for me to do this, but I need to get an idea of how many people I should expect to attend.  I also want to publish a Games of No Chance style journal from the conference as well.

I am applying for some money so that I can have some invited speakers, and there will be a chance to do a little sightseeing while you're here.  Unfortunately though, due to the way funds are distributed in China, there won't be any money for air fares (even for invited speakers), so if you do want to come you'll need to arrange your own plane ticket.

If you are interested in coming, then please get back to me.  If you give me a rough time when you'll be available, then that will help me to set a precise date for it.  I do understand this won't be for around a year, so if you don't know yet then that's fine.

You can get back to him by emailing: fraseridstewart [at] gmail [dot] com.  He's hoping to hear back from lots of interested people!

I'm still trying to figure out which of these conferences I'll be able to attend.  Being at a small liberal-arts school doesn't give me much in the way of travel funds, but I'm at least hoping to be at Integers.  If you know that you'll be attending some of these, I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Saturday: WittCon X

This Saturday marks WittCon X, Wittenberg's own gaming convention! 

As usual I'll be running two magic tournaments.  If you're not a Magic: TG player, make the trip to the center of the gaming universe* for the role playing and board games. 

I look forward to seeing you there! :)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Teaching CGT: speed bumps

A few quick notes on the current games course I'm teaching.  This is a combinatorial games course for undergraduates who are not necessarily math or computer science students. 

Some speed bumps on the road to CGT happiness:

* Math is hard.  Math without numbers is harder.  Often when I ask students to "show" something on the homework, they're not sure how to show the proper amount of work. 

* Values aren't coming soon enough.  I decided to skip ahead to Chapter 5 (we're using Lessons in Play) to get to the values.  The book hints at a lot of values ahead of time, but it would be easier to show more examples with values happening earlier on.  I skipped the end of Chapter 4 and probably should have skipped sooner.

* The book problems are tough.  I've needed to generate homework problems appropriate for undergraduates, which has taken some extra time.  I've shied away from the worksheets I used last time, but perhaps I should reincorporate those.

There are definitely some things that make going ahead easy, though:

* The students are not expecting me to prove things.  It's pretty easy for me to skip the more theoretical material in the book.

* The class is small and flexible.  I've been able to ditch my lecture notes and do other things when it seems appropriate.  I did this in class on Monday.

* I asked the students to force me to clarify whether I mean "ruleset" or "position" whenever I use the word "game".  They're very good at this, to the point where they call out whichever I should have said themselves.

I'm really looking forward to the point where I give students a new game ruleset and they can more deeply explore that on their own.  I really enjoy teaching this course and I'd like to accelerate progress to that point in future iterations.