International Journal of Game Theory

, Volume 47, Issue 2, pp 417–450

Algebraic games—playing with groups and rings

Original Paper

Abstract

Two players alternate moves in the following impartial combinatorial game: Given a finitely generated abelian group A, a move consists of picking some $$0 \ne a \in A$$. The game then continues with the quotient group $$A/\langle a \rangle$$. We prove that under the normal play rule, the second player has a winning strategy if and only if A is a square, i.e. $$A \cong B \times B$$ for some abelian group B. Under the misère play rule, only minor modifications concerning elementary abelian groups are necessary to describe the winning situations. We also compute the nimbers, i.e. Sprague–Grundy values of 2-generated abelian groups. An analogous game can be played with arbitrary algebraic structures. We study some examples of non-abelian groups and commutative rings such as R[X], where R is a principal ideal domain.

Keywords

Combinatorial game theory Abelian groups Commutative Rings Impartial games Nimber Algebraic game

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