# Portal:Mathematics

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## The Mathematics Portal

**Mathematics** is the study of numbers, quantity, space, pattern, structure, and change. Mathematics is used throughout the world as an essential tool in many fields, including natural science, engineering, medicine, and the social sciences. Applied mathematics, the branch of mathematics concerned with application of mathematical knowledge to other fields, inspires and makes use of new mathematical discoveries and sometimes leads to the development of entirely new mathematical disciplines, such as statistics and game theory. Mathematicians also engage in pure mathematics, or mathematics for its own sake, without having any application in mind. There is no clear line separating pure and applied mathematics, and practical applications for what began as pure mathematics are often discovered.

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**Game theory** is a branch of mathematics that is often used in the context of economics. It studies strategic interactions between agents. In strategic games, agents choose strategies which will maximize their return, given the strategies the other agents choose. The essential feature is that it provides a formal modelling approach to social situations in which decision makers interact with other agents. Game theory extends the simpler optimisation approach developed in neoclassical economics.

The field of game theory came into being with the 1944 classic *Theory of Games and Economic Behavior* by John von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern. A major center for the development of game theory was RAND Corporation where it helped to define nuclear strategies.

Game theory has played, and continues to play a large role in the social sciences, and is now also used in many diverse academic fields. Beginning in the 1970s, game theory has been applied to animal behaviour, including evolutionary theory. Many games, especially the prisoner's dilemma, are used to illustrate ideas in political science and ethics. Game theory has recently drawn attention from computer scientists because of its use in artificial intelligence and cybernetics.

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A **hypotrochoid** is a curve traced out by a point "attached" to a smaller circle rolling around inside a fixed larger circle. In this example, the hypotrochoid is the red curve that is traced out by the red point 5 units from the center of the black circle of radius 3 as it rolls around inside the blue circle of radius 5. A special case is a hypotrochoid with the inner circle exactly one-half the radius of the outer circle, resulting in an ellipse (see an animation showing this). Mathematical analysis of closely-related curves called hypocycloids lead to special Lie groups. Both hypotrochoids and epitrochoids (where the moving circle rolls around on the outside of the fixed circle) can be created using the Spirograph drawing toy. These curves have applications in the "real world" in epicyclic and hypocycloidal gearing, which were used in World War II in the construction of portable radar gear and may be used today in 3D printing.

## Did you know -

- ... that the clique problem of programming a computer to find complete subgraphs in an undirected graph was first studied as a way to find groups of people who all know each other in social networks?
- ... that the Herschel graph is the smallest possible polyhedral graph that does not have a Hamiltonian cycle?
- ... that the Life without Death cellular automaton, a mathematical model of pattern formation, is a variant of Conway's Game of Life in which cells, once brought to life, never die?
- ... that one can list every positive rational number without repetition by breadth-first traversal of the Calkin–Wilf tree?
- ... that the Hadwiger conjecture implies that the external surface of any three-dimensional convex body can be illuminated by only eight light sources, but the best proven bound is that 16 lights are sufficient?
- ... that an equitable coloring of a graph, in which the numbers of vertices of each color are as nearly equal as possible, may require far more colors than a graph coloring without this constraint?
- ... that no matter how biased a coin one uses, flipping a coin to determine whether each edge is present or absent in a countably infinite graph will always produce the same graph, the Rado graph?

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The **Mathematics WikiProject** is the center for mathematics-related editing on Wikipedia. Join the discussion on the project's **talk page**.

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