Associate Mathematics Professor Burt Simon’s game

CU Denver Associate Professor Burt Simon’s “Limbo” Game Helps Teach Game Theory

May 10, 2022

Associate Mathematics Professor Burt Simon’s paper, titled “The Simplest Unlimited-Player Game of Skill,” has been accepted for publication in 2023 by the American Mathematical Monthly magazine, geared toward a general mathematical audience. “The generic name of the game is LUPI (least positive integer game),” says Simon. “I call the game ‘Limbo.’” The game challenges players to pick the smallest possible integer (whole number that is not a fraction) that no one else picks.  For example, if 10 players picked 2, 2,4, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, 164, the player who picked 5 would win.

Simon came up with the game as a kind of educational tool. “It is best thought of as a strange kind of lottery game that doesn’t need a random number generator and is not a game of pure luck,” he says. “In the paper, it is proposed as a kind of party game, too. I’ve been using it as an example in my game theory class. It teaches the mathematical principles of ‘Nash equilibria,’ and ‘evolutionary stable strategies (ESS),’ which are important game theory concepts. It also illustrates multi-player games in the most extreme sense since there is no limit on the number of players.”