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The maths and magic of shuffling

Will Houstoun and Cheryl Praeger

We all have our favoured methods of shuffling cards, but most of us don't think any more about it once we've started playing a game. But there's so much more to be discovered! In this podcast mathematician Cheryl Praeger and magician Will Houstoun reveal the maths and magic behind shuffling cards. And as this podcast, first published in March 2021, was the first podcast we produced in collaboration with the Isaac Newton Institute, Dan Aspel also tells us all about the INI!

You can watch Cheryl Praeger talk about the mathematics of shuffling in her Kirk Lecture at the INI in 2020. You can be astounded by Will Houstoun's magic, including the amazing trick we mentioned in the podcast, and find out more about his work as magician in residence at the Imperial College London and Royal College of Music Centre for Performance Science, at his website. And you can read all the details behind the maths and magic of shuffling in their Plus articles: The magic of shuffling and The mathematics of shuffling.

Will Houstoun demonstrating a perfect shuffle (Video: Will Houstoun)

This podcast was inspired by a talk given by Cheryl Praeger as part of the Groups, representations and applications programme at the Isaac Newton Institute. You can find out more about the maths behind this programme here.

This podcast is part of our collaboration with the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences (INI), an international research centre and our neighbour here on the University of Cambridge's maths campus. INI attracts leading mathematical scientists from all over the world, and is open to all. Visit to find out more.

INI logo

You can listen to the podcast using the player above, and you can listen and subscribe to our podcast through Apple Podcasts, Spotify and through most other podcast providers via podbean.

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