6 out of 200 – Nhan Bao Ho studies winning strategies for games
Meet Nhan Bao Ho in this Q&A series with 6 out of 200 computer scientists and mathematicians participating at the 4th Heidelberg Laureate Forum, September 18-23, 2016. 22 Laureates (Abel Prize, Fields Medal, Nevanlinna Prize, Turing Award) will attend the forum together with them. For a full week, Heidelberg in Germany will be the hot spot of mathematics and computer science.
What is your name and where are you from? My name is Nhan Bao Ho, I am Vietnamese
Where did you study and where are you currently based? I completed my PhD in mathematics at La Trobe University in Australia. I am still based at La Trobe University now.
What is your current position? I am a honorary research fellow there.
What is the focus of your research? I’m working on two-player combinatorial games. Examples of these games include Go, Chess, Checker, and Tic-tac-toe. My research focuses on impartial games in which legal moves depend on the position rather than who is about to move. The game of Nim is an example, in which the two players alternately remove tokens from a row of piles until all tokens are removed. I have analyzed many variants of Nim, studying winning strategies, complexity, and numerical properties including periodicity. Studying games is enjoyable as I can see how mathematics exists in real life. For example, it would help to explain why some games look simple to play but are very hard to analyze.
Why did you become a mathematician? I enjoyed mathematics in high school, and the main reason is possibly I am better at mathematics than other fields.
What do you see yourself doing in 10 years? I believe mathematics is part of my life, and it is absolutely going to be part of it in ten years.
What are you doing besides research? I have two sons. Playing with my sons in my free time is wonderful. To be honest, I also like reading although I don’t have much time for this. I buy many books, read some of them, normally not finishing one. So possibly I like buying books rather than reading. But I promise, I will finish many of them before retirement
Why did you apply for the HLF? This event is an excellent opportunity for young researchers to network. Meeting new people is enjoyable. Also, Heidelberg is a nice city.
What do you expect from this meeting? I would love to have a chance to talk with many people and learn from their experience. It is my usual practice that I work harder after each conference. This event will absolutely boost by motivation by a factor of two.
Which laureates present at the forum would you really like to talk to? I read a book about Fermat’s Last Theorem when I was in the first year at university and Sir Andrew Wiles was so impressive to me. How surprising, I have chance to meet him in this event.