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Luck, Logic, and White Lies: The Mathematics of Games
 
 

Luck, Logic, and White Lies: The Mathematics of Games [Kindle Edition]

Jörg Bewersdorff

Print List Price: £43.99
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Review

" This book serves as an introduction to the mathematics of games. It seeks to show to the reader how it is that games have their power--how they manipulate chance, hidden information, and combinatorics... -Musings, Ramblings, and Things Left Unsaid, February 2005
most interesting and unique book, encompassing games of chance and games of perfect and imperfect information, stimulating and thought-provoking both to the sophisticated layman and to the well-informed expert."" -Aviezri Fraenkel, April 2005
in plain terms, Luck, Logic, and White Lies teaches readers of all backgrounds about the insight mathematical knowledge can bring and is highly recommended reading among avid game players, both to better understand the game itself and to improve one's skills."" -Midwest Book Review, April 2005
""Anyone who has ever tried to analyse a game mathematically knows that things can get very complicated very quickly..."" -Marianne Freiberger, Millennium Mathematics Project, University of Cambridge., May 2005
""The aim is to introduce the mathematics that will allow analysis of the problem or game. This is done in gentle stages, from chapter to chapter, so as to reach as broad an audience as possible. . . . Anyone who likes games and has a taste for analytical thinking will enjoy this book."" -Peter Fillmore, CMS Notes, May 2005
""The best book I've found for someone new to game math is Luck, Logic and White Lies by Jörg Bewersdorff. It introduces the reader to a vast mathematical literature, and does so in an enormously clear manner..."" -Alfred Wallace, Musings, Ramblings, and Things Left Unsaid, August 2005
""The book is well-written and can be recommended to all readers with interest in game theory."" -EMS Newsletter, June 2005
""He reviews the mathematical foundations, probability, combinatorics, and mathematical game theory, and emphasizes the implementation of these techniques so that players can put them to work immediately."" -L'Enseignement Mathematique, August 2005
""Ce Livre est bon. . . pour un coup d'oeil général sur le domaine, je ne pense pas qu'on puisse mieux trouver."" -Robert Bilinski, Lu pour vous, October 2005
""This book is a must for anyone interested in gaming... Students with an interest in mathematics will find this book to be of interest."" -Holly Flynn, E-Streams, August 2005
""I would recommend this book to high school and college teachers for their own enrichment, as a resource book for good students, and as a source for classroom activities."" -John Leamy, Mathematics Teacher, December 2005
""Translated (by David Kramer) from German, this book continues Martin Gardner's tradition of explaining how to play and to win at various mathematical games..."" -Paul J. Campbell, Look Smart, February 2006
""It is really good news that J. Bewersdorff's successful book has now, after the enthusiastic reviews of the previous three German editions been translated into English to reach the worldwide readership it deserves."" -Zentralblatt MATH, March 2006
""For anyone interested in what's really going on in games they play, this is an extremely interesting book. "" -January 2007
""This book is unusual in making the illustrative examples and the more technical and theoretical aspects of probability equally interesting and clear... What I liked particularly was the clarity, yet non-triviality of the examples used, leading to a well-founded understanding of these ideas."" -The Mathematical Gazette, November 2006
""The author (successfully) addresses a broad audience of readers interested in games."" -SpringerWienNewYork - Monatshefte fuer Mathematik, May 2008"

Product Description

The mathematical underpinnings of games, whether they are strategic or games of chance, have been known for centuries, but are usually only understood by players and aficionados who have a background in mathematics. The author has succeeded in making that knowledge accessible, entertaining, and useful to everyone who likes to play and win. The information applies to such diverse and popular games as Roulette, Monopoly™, Chess, Go, numerous card games, and many more. He reviews the mathematical foundations, probability, combinatorics, and mathematical game theory, the field that won John Nash of A Beautiful Mind the Nobel Prize, and emphasizes the implementation of these techniques so that players can put them to work immediately. An extensive bibliography and sections describing the historical developments are welcome features to put the subject in a broader context

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 4753 KB
  • Print Length: 504 pages
  • Publisher: A K Peters/CRC Press (10 Dec 2004)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006G5OT0A
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #967,363 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended reading among avid game players 11 April 2005
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Written by the general manager of Mega-Spielgerate, a game design company based in Limburg, Germany, Luck, Logic & White Lies: The Mathematics Of Games is a no-nonsense instructional in basic probability, geometry, and mathematics as they apply to popular games. Topics discussed include popular myths among those who the lottery, to the question of whether it is possible to reconcile chance and mathematical certainty, to testing dice, the possibilities of distribution in a roulette, modern theories as applied to the classical game of Go, whether bluffing in poker can be done without psychology, and so much more. Written in plain terms, Luck, Logic & White Lies teaches readers of all backgrounds about the insight mathematical knowledge can bring and is highly recommended reading among avid game players, both to better understand the game itself and to improve one's skills.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some Math, but you don't have to be a Mathematician 9 Jan 2007
By John Matlock - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
As this book points out, games fall into three broad categories:

1. Games of Chance

2. Games with a large number of combinations of different moves

3. Different states of information among the individual players.

And this book is broken into three main sections, one for each of these.

Before you get too turned off, yes, there is some math in this book. But it is really not heavy duty. (After all, John Nash of A Beautiful Mind won the Nobel Prize for his work on game theory and his work was not simple math.) The authors explanations of the situations described in the games are very good are very good, and the minimal amount of math is really helpful.

Virtually all of the common games from from the lottery to chess and even Monopoly, as well as the casino games such as blackjack and Roulette are discussed in detail. For anyone interested in what's really going on in games they play, this is an extremely interesting book.

The author knows whereof he speaks, he is the general manager of a game design company based in Germany.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great introduction to the mathematics of games 16 Aug 2005
By Alfred H. Wallace - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
So many books about the mathematics of games are either long out of print, hard to find, or fairly esoteric and not something I'd recommend to just anyone. The best book I've found for someone new to game math is Luck, Logic and White Lies by Jörg Bewersdorff. It introduces the reader to a vast mathematical literature, and does so in an enormously clear manner, which never takes one very far away from either the math or the games behind them. I love Winning Ways and On Numbers and Games, but they're definitely not for the faint of heart. LL&WL is the perfect book for gamers who are interested in the mathematics that underlie the choices they face and decisions they make. Just great stuff.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Of mixed clarity 11 Oct 2009
By Peter Drake - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The author begins in the preface by categorizing games by the source of uncertainty: chance, vast search space (combinatorial games like Chess and Go), or imperfect information (strategic games of the sort studied by economic game theory). He counts simultaneous move selection as imperfect information.

Some chapters are much clearer than others. For example, the opening chapters on elementary probability and the explanation of the minimax theorem are excellent, but the rapid handwaving explanation of how computer programs work is completely opaque. Some chapters flowed enjoyably, while in others I had to re-read paragraphs several times to extract the argument (not always successfully).

The chapters are fairly independent, so it is easy to skip material.

The author does investigate a wide range of games, including some relatively modern (i.e., post-1950) games.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Panoramic overview of the mathematics of games 31 Aug 2012
By David J. Aldous - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
One third concerns probability and games of chance, another third concerns "combinatorial games" (from Nim to Go and Chess) and the final third concerns "game-theoretic", i.e. strategy, games like rock-paper-scissors. Perhaps because the author is an actual game designer, this book has an interesting and unusual style that straddles several more familiar genres. The book is ``about the mathematics", so demands more concentration than many ``popular science" style books that just talk about math instead of engaging it. On the other hand it differs from textbooks in that the chapters (45 chapters averaging 10 pages) are somewhat independent, a wide cross-section of math ideas are mentioned and the math level varies between chapters. The reader should be willing to engage lower division level college math but is not required to have specific prior knowledge. Another non-standard feature is that there is some careful history -- the author has read some original works, not just copied textbook accounts of the history of the subject.

The first third (on probability and games of chance, my own main interest) discusses mostly standard topics from textbooks and popular science (Binomial distribution, expectation and standard deviation; law of large numbers and Normal approximation; Poison approximation; Monte Carlo simulations, chi-square test, Monty Hall, Buffon's needle, nontransitive dice) with some specific "games" applications (snakes-ladders and Monopoly as Markov chains; dice-races and Risk probabilities). But the enjoyably readable style makes this book more friendly than a typical textbook while more sophisticated than a typical popular science account such as Struck by Lightning: The Curious World of Probabilities.

The final third treats (mostly) two-person zero-sum game theory, presented as literal games. It goes through the minimax theory and details of math in concrete examples such as bluffing in poker. This is fine but seems curiously old-fashioned -- most could have been written 40 years ago. A more modern angle on game theory, exemplified by the popular book Rock, Paper, Scissors: Game Theory in Everyday Life would be to emphasize Nash equilibria and the interplay of cooperation and competition in non-zero-sum economic settings.

The middle third ("combinatorial games", with which I am least familiar) strikes me as the book's most distinctive contribution -- there is less existing literature at this level, and anyway there are so many such games that no two books should overlap much. These 15 chapters cover a lot of ground -- for instance Hex and "concentration" and Mastermind, as well as those mentioned earlier.

Summary: for the intellectually curious reader interested in "the mathematics of games" and not afraid of some actual math, this book has the rare virtue of being both wide-ranging and concrete -- concrete in the sense of dealing with real games. And the style makes it amenable to browsing rather than reading cover to cover. On the other hand I find it hard to judge the practical usefulness of the 26 pages of analysis of Go or the 13 pages on Blackjack. For the reader who has never played the game it is surely too much to take in, whereas the reader who has played and wants more mathematical analysis would surely prefer a dedicated book? The real theme of the book is how to start thinking mathematically about games in general, and I think it is as successful in tackling this theme as any book could be.
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