Maseeh Mathematics & Statistics Colloquium: The card game SET, finite affine geometry, and combinatorial number theory
Friday, May 24, 2019 - 3:15pm

The Maseeh Mathematics and Statistics Colloquium Series

Robert Won, Ph.D.
University of Washington

The card game SET, finite affine geometry, and combinatorial number theory  

The game SET is a card game of pattern-recognition. To play the game, twelve cards are dealt face up and all players look for SETs, which are collections of three cards satisfying a certain property. When a SET is found, it is removed and three new cards are dealt. The player who finds the most SETs is the winner. When playing the game, a natural question arises: does every collection of twelve cards contain at least one SET? Or, perhaps more precisely: how many cards are needed to guarantee the presence of a SET?   
This question is related to a problem that Terence Tao, in a blogpost from 2007, described as "perhaps [his] favourite open question." In this talk, we explore the connections between SET, finite affine geometry, and combinatorial number theory. We discuss recent breakthrough work of Ellenberg and Gijswijt which answers Tao's question. Finally, we introduce a generalization of this question and present some recent results.

Dr. Won is Acting Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Washington. He works on problems in noncommutative ring theory and noncommutative algebraic geometry.  He was born and raised in New Jersey and earned his PhD in Mathematics at the University of California, San Diego.  He spent two years as a Teacher-Scholar Postdoctoral Fellow at Wake Forest University in North Carolina prior to moving to Washington. 

Friday, May 24, 2019 at 3:15pm 
Urban Center room 204, 506 SW Mill Street
Light refreshments served

The faculty host of this speaker is Dr. Andy Wilson