In Yesterday's door of the Plus advent calendar, we found out what a magician can do with a card shuffle. But what might a mathematician do when shuffling cards? To find out we asked Cheryl Praeger, from the University of Western Australia. It was Praeger who first intrigued us in card shuffling with her fascinating talk at the Isaac Newton Institute last year. Praeger works in group theory, an area of mathematics that is motivated by symmetry, and when we spoke to he she revealed the fascinating insights group theory brings to understanding shuffling cards.
This article 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 www.newton.ac.uk to find out more.