MAA Writing Awards
Outwitting the Lying Oracle
Year of Award: 2006
Award: Carl B. Allendoerfer
Publication Information: Mathematics Magazine, vol. 78, (2005), pp. 98-109
Summary: The authors use applications of game theory and probability to analyze and generalize the game, then try to find strategies for a better expected outcome.
About the Authors
Robb T. Koether is a Professor of mathematics and computer science at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, where he has taught for the past 25 years. He earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics at the University of Richmond in 1973 and his Ph.D. in algebra at the University of Oklahoma in 1978 under the direction of Bernard R. McDonald. At Hampden-Sydney College Koether enjoys the opportunity to teach in many different areas of mathematics as well as computer science. He also enjoys solving mathematical contest problems and other puzzles, one of which led to the paper “Outwitting the Lying Oracle,” for which this award was given. Outside of teaching and mathematics, he enjoys many outdoor activities, including cycling, camping, and backpacking on the Appalachian Trail. He is active in a number of community organizations, including the local Boy Scout troop and his church.
John K. Osinach, Jr. earned his Ph.D. in 1998 at the University of Texas at Austin under the supervision of John Luecke. Immediately afterwards, he taught at Eureka College until 2000, when he married and moved to Virginia to take a position at Hampden-Sydney College. While his main area of research is in low-dimensional topology, specifically the geometry and topology of 3-manifolds, his work at small, liberal arts colleges has expanded his range of mathematical curiosity. In addition to his own research, John has supervised several undergraduates in research projects ranging from topology to the mathematics of social choice. He will begin a new position in the fall of 2006 as an Assistant Professor of mathematics at Millsaps College.