Sunday, January 24, 2016

Al-Jabar: a board game based on abstract algebra



Robert Schneider, who is one of my fellow graduate students at Emory, created a mathematical board game with Cyrus Hettle while at University of Kentucky. According to the game's website:
The game of Al-Jabar is based on concepts of color-mixing familiar to most of us from childhood, and on ideas from abstract algebra, a branch of higher mathematics. Once you are familiar with the rules of the game, your intuitive notions of color lead to interesting and often counter-intuitive color combinations created in gameplay. 
Al-Jabar contains pieces in eight different colors. You are dealt a hand of thirteen of these pieces, and your goal is to get rid of your hand before your opponents empty theirs. By combining and exchanging pieces in your hand, you can reduce your hand, and even give your opponents additional pieces to slow them down. 
In addition to being a challenging strategy game, Al-Jabar is ideal for the classroom, either to teach color mixing theory in elementary or middle school or group theory in an undergraduate abstract algebra course. While Al-Jabar is based on highly abstract and profound mathematical ideas, gameplay consists only of making creative color combinations. Anyone can understand and play the game, even if they have no mathematical background.
On the website, you can find the rules, suggestions for how to make the game yourself, and a link to buy it.

Al-Jabar Games

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