Bulgarian solitaire

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In mathematics and game theory, Bulgarian solitaire is a card game that was introduced by Martin Gardner.

In the game, a pack of N cards is divided into several piles. Then for each pile, remove one card; collect the removed cards together to form a new pile (piles of zero size are ignored).

If N is a triangular number (that is, N=1+2+\cdots+k for some k), then it is known that Bulgarian solitaire will reach a stable configuration in which the sizes of the piles are 1,2,\ldots, k. This state is reached in k^2-k moves or fewer. If N is not triangular, no stable configuration exists and a limit cycle is reached.

Random Bulgarian solitaire[edit]

In random Bulgarian solitaire or stochastic Bulgarian solitaire a pack of N cards is divided into several piles. Then for each pile, either leave it intact or, with a fixed probability p, remove one card; collect the removed cards together to form a new pile (piles of zero size are ignored). This is a finite irreducible Markov chain.

In 2004, Brazilian probabilist of Russian origin Serguei Popov showed that stochastic Bulgarian solitaire spends "most" of its time in a "roughly" triangular distribution.

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