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Moravian College

Rebekah Overdorf '12

2011-2012 Honors Student

Rebekah Overdorf '12

Name:  Rebekah Overdorf ’12 
Honors in: Computer Science/Mathematics
Hometown: Belfast, Pa.
Majors: Computer Science and Mathematics

Title of project: The Computational Complexity of Games

Project advisors: Matthew Lang and Kevin Hartshorn

Abstract or brief description: My goal was to explore the complexity of popular board games and logic puzzle including Math-24 and Chinese checkers. In addition, I aimed to learn more about computational complexity and the different classes associated with how difficult it is to solve a specific problem.

How did you get interested in your topic? Initially, I took a class at Moravian on basic theoretical computer science and really enjoyed it. I wanted to learn more about this topic in general and go deeper into certain aspects of the course that I found exceptionally interesting. After some research, I decided to work in complexity theory, but with the fun twist that was board games.

Do you intend to research your topic further? If so, how? I intend to continue working in computer science theory in graduate school and possibly even in computational complexity.

How did you benefit academically by conducting research/participating in honors? Honors gave me the opportunity to explore a part of computer science that I am very interested in and would have otherwise not had the opportunity to study in a formal setting. It also taught me a lot about the research process in math and computer science, which will definitely help me as I go on to graduate school.

How has the department (or faculty advisor) prepared you for the future? The biggest way that the department has prepared me is by teaching me the research process. I learned how to go through an entire problem, from background research to finding an interesting open problem, to completing my research on it and writing it up formally.

What advice do you have for other students interested in Honors? My advice is to pick a good, appropriately sized problem. If your problem is too big to solve in a semester, you might end up needed to prune it down, mid-semester, to a problem you can handle, which can be challenging.

My future plans: I plan on attending a Ph.D. program for computer science and continuing study in computer science theory.