License: Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license (CC BY 3.0)
When quoting this document, please refer to the following
DOI: 10.4230/LIPIcs.SoCG.2017.6
URN: urn:nbn:de:0030-drops-72053
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Abrahamsen, Mikkel ; Holm, Jacob ; Rotenberg, Eva ; Wulff-Nilsen, Christian

Best Laid Plans of Lions and Men

LIPIcs-SoCG-2017-6.pdf (0.6 MB)


We answer the following question dating back to J.E. Littlewood (1885-1977): Can two lions catch a man in a bounded area with rectifiable lakes? The lions and the man are all assumed to be points moving with at most unit speed. That the lakes are rectifiable means that their boundaries are finitely long. This requirement is to avoid pathological examples where the man survives forever because any path to the lions is infinitely long. We show that the answer to the question is not always "yes", by giving an example of a region R in the plane where the man has a strategy to survive forever. R is a polygonal region with holes and the exterior and interior boundaries are pairwise disjoint, simple polygons. Our construction is the first truly two-dimensional example where the man can survive.

Next, we consider the following game played on the entire plane instead of a bounded area: There is any finite number of unit speed lions and one fast man who can run with speed 1+epsilon for some value epsilon>0. Can the man always survive? We answer the question in the affirmative for any constant epsilon>0.

BibTeX - Entry

  author =	{Mikkel Abrahamsen and Jacob Holm and Eva Rotenberg and Christian Wulff-Nilsen},
  title =	{{Best Laid Plans of Lions and Men}},
  booktitle =	{33rd International Symposium on Computational Geometry (SoCG 2017)},
  pages =	{6:1--6:16},
  series =	{Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs)},
  ISBN =	{978-3-95977-038-5},
  ISSN =	{1868-8969},
  year =	{2017},
  volume =	{77},
  editor =	{Boris Aronov and Matthew J. Katz},
  publisher =	{Schloss Dagstuhl--Leibniz-Zentrum fuer Informatik},
  address =	{Dagstuhl, Germany},
  URL =		{},
  URN =		{urn:nbn:de:0030-drops-72053},
  doi =		{10.4230/LIPIcs.SoCG.2017.6},
  annote =	{Keywords: Lion and man game, Pursuit evasion game, Winning strategy}

Keywords: Lion and man game, Pursuit evasion game, Winning strategy
Collection: 33rd International Symposium on Computational Geometry (SoCG 2017)
Issue Date: 2017
Date of publication: 20.06.2017

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