Winning the World Chess Championship

This week’s Riddler Express from FiveThirtyEight: The World Chess Championship is underway. It is a 12-game match between the world’s top two grandmasters. Many chess fans feel that 12 games is far too short for a biennial world championship match, allowing too much variance. Say one of the players is better than his opponent to the degree that he wins 20 percent of all games, loses 15 percent of games and that 65 percent of games are drawn.

in r

November 16, 2018

Cubs World Series Puzzles (For Fun)

This week’s Riddler Express from FiveThirtyEight: The best team in baseball this year, the Chicago Cubs, have clinched their playoff spot and will play their first playoff game a week from today. The Cubs’ road to the World Series title consists of a best-of-five series followed by two best-of-seven series. How many unique strings of wins and losses could the Cubs assemble if they make their way through the playoffs and win their first championship title since 1908?

in r

October 6, 2016

A Modified Draft Pick Selection Order

In preparation for teaching a new computing course for the social sciences, I’ve been practicing building interactive websites using Shiny for R. The latest Riddler puzzle from FiveThirtyEight was an especially interesting challenge, combining aspects of computational simulation and Shiny programing: You are one of 30 team owners in a professional sports league. In the past, your league set the order for its annual draft using the teams’ records from the previous season — the team with the worst record got the first draft pick, the team with the second-worst record got the next pick, and so on.

in r

September 20, 2016

Can You Best The Mysterious Man In The Trench Coat?

The latest Riddler puzzle on FiveThirtyEight: A man in a trench coat approaches you and pulls an envelope from his pocket. He tells you that it contains a sum of money in bills, anywhere from $1 up to $1,000. He says that if you can guess the exact amount, you can keep the money. After each of your guesses he will tell you if your guess is too high, or too low.

in r

March 20, 2016

Can You Win This Hot New Game Show?

So the latest Riddler puzzle on FiveThirtyEight goes like this: Two players go on a hot new game show called “Higher Number Wins.” The two go into separate booths, and each presses a button, and a random number between zero and one appears on a screen. (At this point, neither knows the other’s number, but they do know the numbers are chosen from a standard uniform distribution.) They can choose to keep that first number, or to press the button again to discard the first number and get a second random number, which they must keep.

in r

March 9, 2016