BHSU Geek Speak card game shuffles players towards mathematical investigations

Author: BHSU Communications/Thursday, September 14, 2017/Categories: 2017

Dr. Dan May, associate professor of mathematics at BHSU, continues BHSU's Geek Speak lecture series, presenting "The Joy of SET: Inroads into Combinatorics and Finite Geometry" Thursday, Sept. 21 at 4 p.m. in Jonas 110. The Geek Speak lecture series, sponsored by the BHSU University Honors program, features academic discussion and topics not normally discussed in the traditional classroom. The lectures are free and open to the public.

The Black Hills State University Honors Program continues to "geek out" with another Geek Speak lecture designed to bring the card game enthusiast and mathematics buff out of each participant.

Dr. Dan May, associate professor of mathematics at BHSU, presents "The Joy of SET: Inroads into Combinatorics and Finite Geometry" Thursday, Sept. 21 at 4 p.m. in Jonas 110. All Geek Speak lectures are free and open to the public.

The card game SET is a pattern-matching game which is easy-to-learn, but surprisingly rich in mathematical content. During the Geek Speak, participants will learn this simple game and be encouraged to ask a few questions of their own. Absolutely no background in mathematics is needed to engage in this interactive lecture.

In SET, questions like, "How many cards are in the deck?" or "How many different sets can I make?" quickly bend into the field of combinatorics. Other investigations, such as, "How many ways can the cards be arranged in order to play?" lead us to the world of finite geometry. Even the question, "Which is the last card standing?" can result in an amusing card trick, according to May.

"There's a very strict set of rules that comes with playing the game, but the creativity comes when you begin to ask questions," says May. "This is the perfect game to investigate."

While May doesn't seek out hidden mathematics within his other interests, he has learned to explore their systems and inquire about their structure. Whether it's in music, poetry, or games, May discovers creativity within the rules. He explains that to discover something new, you must simply ask, "What do I wonder?" and be willing to investigate the answer.

Participants are encouraged to come to this interactive, social Geek Speak ready to play and to boldly investigate the intricacies of this entertaining game.

The Geek Speak lecture series, sponsored by the BHSU University Honors program, features academic discussion and topics not normally discussed in the traditional classroom. The goal of the weekly lectures is to expose students to diversity within the disciplines. Some Geek Speaks will be presented at the Jacket Zone store located on Main Street in downtown Spearfish.
  • Sept. 21: "The Joy of SET: Inroads into Combinatorics and Finite Geometry" by Dr. Daniel May, assistant professor of mathematics
  • Sept. 28: "Imagining Mythica: Hit-and-Run Game Design for the Bullheaded OR Building Narrative Engines for an ADD world at the Intersection of Math, Myth, Movies, and Money OR Perseverance and Beginner's Mind: The Eye-opening March from Mythica to Walmart" by Karl Lehman, instructor of English
  • Oct. 5: "'The Meaning of Everything': The Making of the Oxford English Dictionary" by Dr. Andrey Reznikov, professor of English
  • Oct. 12: "Tasting Life Twice: On Life-Writing and Wellbeing" by Dr. Denice Turner, assistant professor of education
  • Oct. 19: "Use of Images for Visualization and Visual Literacy in Language Class" by Dr. Du-Lu Hsiao, assistant professor of Spanish
  • Oct. 26: "Something Wicked This Way Comes: The History, Myths, and Rituals of Halloween" by Dr. Courtney Huse-Wika, director of the Honors Program and associate professor of English
  • Nov. 2: "Veterans Legacies in the Black Hills" by Kelly Kirk, instructor of history
  • Nov. 16: "Searching for Riemann: A brief history and some recent insights into one of the most intriguing unsolved million-dollar problem in mathematics" by Dr. Parthasarathi Nag, professor of mathematics
  • Nov. 30: University Honors Capstone Defenses
  • Dec. 7: University Honors Capstone Defenses
To read short descriptions of each lecture topic, visit www.BHSU.edu/Honors

For more information, contact Dr. Courtney Huse-Wika, director of the University Honors Program and assistant professor of English, at 605-642-6918 or email Courtney.HuseWika@BHSU.edu.
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