, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 97-102

Computational Diversions: The Game of HullGrams

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This installment of the computational diversions column introduces a new game (at least I think it’s new, and original–I haven’t seen it anywhere before). The game is called HullGrams, which is intended to suggest a blend of the classic mathematical pastime of tangrams with the geometric notion of a convex hull.

By way of preface–before we get to the rules of HullGrams–let’s begin with its inspiration in the puzzle of tangrams. Many readers will be familiar with tangrams; but for those who have never seen the puzzle, books such as (Crawford, 2002) and (Read, 1965) are recommended. Martin Gardner, in his Scientific American column, discussed the pastime and researched its history (Gardner (1988), chapters 3–4); that history, by the way, is resolutely less romantic than the fable originally spun by the larger-than-life American “puzzle king” Sam Loyd, who did not invent tangrams but popularized it early in the twentieth century. Briefly, the basic idea of the tangram puzzle is that we are