Upper Schooler's Achievement 'Exceedingly Rare'

Senior Andrew Tu was part of a four-person research team whose work was published in Discrete Math Letters — a peer-reviewed, international, and scholarly journal — on December 31.

Tu’s research is in Combinatorial Game Theory (CGT), a subfield of Game Theory. CGT studies two-player games with sequential moves and in which both players have the same information like Chess or Tic-Tac-Toe. It provides a systematic way to formalize the games and the relationship between game states under a rigorous mathematical structure. 

“I’ve always liked thinking about strategy games like chess and optimal strategies in general,” Tu said. “I find CGT interesting because it was a natural way to combine this interest with my passion for math.”

Tu’s team analyzed the behavior of the games Saliquant and Nontotient, which are based on the positive integers and number theoretic functions. 

“It is exceedingly rare for high school students to engage in novel research that is publishable in the peer-reviewed journal literature,” said Mathematics Chair Richard Dobbins.

“By that standard, Andrew's achievement is already significant. What is even more amazing to me is that he was not at all a passenger in this project, nor was he simply executing the ideas of others. 

“On the contrary, I gather he made several key contributions to this study, up to and including proving some of the central theorems in the paper. It is hard to overstate how remarkable this is.”



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