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TriPython April 2019 Meeting: Solving Pentomino Puzzles with Python

April 25, 2019 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

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Rex Dwyer (https://github.com/rexdwyer) will present.

2018 marked the 60th anniversary of the first solution of a combinatorial puzzle by computer. In 1958, Dana Scott (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dana_Scott), later a Turing Award winner for his work in denotational semantics, programmed the MANIAC computer (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MANIAC_I) to find all solutions to a pentomino (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentomino) problem by backtracking. (I contacted Dana, one of my old professors, to take note of the anniversary in December 2018. He can still get very excited about pentominoes!)

What are pentominoes, and why have they retained their appeal ever since they were first described by the famous puzzler Henry Dudeney (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Dudeney) in The Canterbury Puzzles #74 (http://www.gutenberg.org/files/27635/27635-h/27635-h.htm) in 1907? Who is the High Priestess of Pentominoes? How many different ways can money be made from pentominos? What are some interesting open pentomino problems? What new puzzles can be devised? How can Python help us? Inquiring minds, including Dana Scott, Don Knuth, Solomon Golomb, Martin Gardner, and Arthur C. Clarke — they all want (or wanted) to know.

Rex Dwyer earned the PhD in Computer Science at Carnegie-Mellon University and the MS in Economics and Latin American Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill. He has been working (mostly) in the biotech industry for two decades. Since 2017, he has worked as a Senior Data Scientist at Metabolon (https://www.metabolon.com/), the world’s leader in advancing metabolomics for every area of life sciences research. In 2018, his predictive software drove the elucidation of more than 200 new compounds in mass spec data. Rex has been building and designing wooden puzzles for almost a decade.

Extemporaneous “lightning talks” of 5-10 minute duration are also welcome and don’t need to be pre-announced. Lightning talks are for you to “show and tell” something you’ve learned about Python recently, no matter how small. We all use Python, therefore, we are always learning something new about Python that we can tell others. Plenty of free parking is available in the RENCI parking deck. The meeting will be followed by our usual after-meeting at a nearby tavern for food and beverage. Come join us for a fun and informative evening.


April 25, 2019
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm


Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI), Suite 590, Biltmore Conference Room, Room 534
100 Europa Drive
Chapel Hill, NC us