Speaker : Professor Shuo-Yen Robert Li (The Chinese University of Hong Kong)
Title : Computing by Symmetry
Time : 2012-03-30 (Fri) 15:30 - 17:00
Place : Seminar Room 722, Institute of Mathematics (NTU Campus)

The popular 2008 movie "21" was based on the story of the MIT Blackjack Team, which won M's in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, the Bahamas, St. Martin, Aruba, Puerto Rico, Europe, ... in the early 1990s. The Team was formed after I left MIT. Before their magnificent tour, the Team managed to track me down on the opposite side of the earth and tried to invite me to join. This was before the age of Internet. Why me?

I had a private theory for exponential speed-up in the computation of blackjack probabilities. It applied some algebra of the symmetric group to tree-search computing. I had fun using it at Las Vegas in my younger days. My advantage over the house started at the very first hand after shuffle. When I released the theory in a 1989 paper in SIAM Journal of Computing, blackjack was only mentioned as one of the three applications. Clever MIT people saw through the disguise by the serious paper title “Dynamic programming by exchangeability.”

Key phrases: Casino Blackjack, bin packing, stochastic process, stopping time, dynamic programming, symmetric group, and coset representatives for a subgroup