Algorithmic Puzzles

Peter Winkler

Darmouth College
Barton Lectures in Computational Mathematics


Date: Wednesday, September 8, 2021
Time: 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Location: Virtual through Zoom
Professor Peter Winkler obtained a Ph.D. in Mathematics from Yale University in 1975 and an MA in Mathematics from Harvard in 1968. He has also served as an Assistant Professor at Stanford, Full Professor and Chair at Emory and as a Mathematics Research Director at Bell Labs and Lucent Technologies. He is currently William Morrill Professor at Dartmouth College. His research areas include combinatorics, probability, statistical physics, and theory of computing. He authored three books, more than 160 research papers, co-edited three books, and is a patent holder (11 to date) in a broad range of applications, ranging from cryptography, holography, gaming, distributed computing, optical networking to marine navigation. The Mathematical Association of America awarded him the Lester R. Ford Award in 1991 and the Robbins Prize in 2011.

Many great puzzles present an algorithm for doing some task, then ask you whether that algorithm could work—and if it could, then, perhaps, whether it must work. Since many real-life problems in computational mathematics take the same form, it is not surprising that techniques for solving such puzzles are nice to know about.  Some of the best of these techniques involve potential functions, and the puzzles you will see are designed to help you appreciate the amazing things they can do.