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The Computer Scientist Who Finds Life Lessons in Games

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Shang-Hua Teng professor of computer science at USC, demonstrating a theorem on a white board.

"I love board games! There are beautiful connections with complexity theory." -Shang-Hua Teng

Credit: Emilio Flores for Quanta Magazine

Shang-Hua Teng is professor of computer science at the University of Southern California and a two-time winner of the Gödel Prize, an annual award recognizing groundbreaking theoretical work. But he often strives to connect that abstract theory to everyday life in ways both practical and playful.

In an interview, Teng discusses getting an education in China, choosing computer science over biology, his love of board games, working in industry, his father's influence, and more.

"In theoretical computer science, often the underlying mathematical principles are unchanged even when the appearance of the problem changes drastically, from optimization to game theory," said Teng. "When you're doing the research, it doesn’t feel like a drastic change."

From Quanta Magazine
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