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Combinatorial Game Theory (BM)


Admission requirements



The field of combinatorial game theory analyzes deterministic, perfect information games for two players. The key question is: given a state of a game, who wins if both players perform optimally? In order to answer this question, we develop a theory that allows us to assign values to games, order the games by value and decompose larger games into smaller ones.

Course Objectives

Being able to analyze a combinatorial game using the theory provided, situationally aided by a computer.

Mode of instruction

Weekly lectures (2 hours) and compulsory weekly hand-in assignments.

Assessment method

The final grade consists of two parts, being:

  • 12 or 13 homework assignments (25%)

  • written exam (75%)
    The lowest two homework grades will not be incorporated when computing the average.

In order to pass the course, the weighted average of all three parts needs to be at least 5.5; the weighted average of the homework assignments (without the lowest two) at least 5.0; and the grade for the exam at least 5.0.

There is a written retake for the written exam. The homework assignments are considered a practical exam and are therefore not retakable.

A result of at least 5.5 for the homework (average); or the exam, obtained in fall 2020, may be reused this year.


The course will be based on Lessons in Play (2nd edition) by Albert, Nowakowski and Wolfe, as well as some additional lecture notes, which will be provided along the way.

Brighstpace/course website

The course will use Brightspace for all communication


Mark van den Bergh: m dot j dot h dot van dot den dot bergh at math dot leidenuniv dot nl, room 217.
Teaching assistants: tba