BENJAMIN LENT DAVIS AND DIANE MACLAGAN
SET is an extremely addictive, fast-paced card game found in toy stores nationwide. Although children often beat adults, the game has a rich mathematical structure linking it to the combinatorics of inite affine and projective spaces and the theory of error-correcting codes. Last year an unexpected connection to Fourier analysis was used to settle a basic question directly related to the game of SET, and many related questions remain open.
The game of SET was invented by population geneticist Marsha Jean Falco in 1974. She was studying epilepsy in German Shepherds and began representing genetic data on the dogs by drawing symbols on cards and then searching for patterns in the data. After realizing the potential as a challenging puzzle, with encouragement from friends and family she developed and marketed the card game. Since then, SET has become a huge hit both inside and outside the mathematical community.