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

Mathematics Magazine, Oct 2005 by Campbell, Paul J

Bewersdorff, Jörg, Luck, Language, and White Lies: The Mathematics of Games, A K Peters, 2005; xvii + 486 pp, $49. ISBN 1-56881-210-8.

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. Bewersdorff classifies the uncertainty in games into chance ("luck"), logic, and bluff ("white lies"), corresponding to games of chance, combinatorial games, and strategic games-and, of course, games offering varying combinations of these elements. Bewersdorff describes and analyzes games of all these kinds, from dice games, lotteries, Monopoly, and blackjack; to Nim, Dominos, Go, Hex, backgammon, and Mastermind; and rock-paper-scissors, poker, and baccarat. He introduces probability distributions (binomial, Poisson, normal), Markov chains, minimax theory, Grundy values, complexity theory, game theory, and linear programming. The book gives up-to-date results about the games, as well as relevant citations to the literature and history.