The Computer Always Wins

The Computer Always Wins: Using Classic Games to Teach Advanced Computer Algorithms
by Elliot Joseph Lichtman
from MIT Press (foreign rights available)
agent Ali Lake

A lively and engaging guide to coding concepts too long locked behind imposing mathematics and perplexing vocabulary.

Students of every age are excited to learn computer science, yet the field’s standard materials are too often a dull, technical slog. Computer science doesn’t have to be this way. Using word games, board games, and strategy games, The Computer Always Wins engages and entertains, introducing algorithms and intermediate coding by guiding readers to teach a computer to play each game effectively. Through the pages, TicTacToe helps a reader understand recursion. Wordle teaches optimization. Taboo becomes an intuitive gateway to machine learning.


Marvelously crafted. Just the kind of book every MIT-bound young computer scientist would want to master before college. Dr. Isaac Chuang, Professor of Electrical Engineering, Computer Science & Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

A superb collection of coding challenges accompanied by elegant descriptions of the relevant computer science concepts. The joy of algorithms shines through, page after page. Dr. John MacCormick, Professor of Computer Science, Dickinson College; author of Nine Algorithms that Changed the Future
Great introductions to complex topics not only teach the reader new concepts and tools, but open up entirely new ways of thinking. A real treat. Richard Rusczyk, founder of the Art of Problem Solving and director of the National Security Administration’s USA Mathematical Talent Search

Elliot Joseph Lichtman is college student at Yale, class of ’27. Since launching his online coding classes at at a remarkable fifteen years old, he has logged 800+ classroom hours, taught more than 350 students, and earned more than $100,000, all using the techniques, strategies, and games shared in The Computer Always Wins. His explainer on data compression is published in Quanta.