The Game of Domino

Domino is a game that involves the placement of small tiles, each shaped like a bone and bearing an arrangement of dots on one end. The domino’s other end is either blank or, in the case of a double-blank tile, may be marked with a number ranging from 0 to 6. The player who draws tiles and plays them in such a way that they touch all four ends of an existing domino chain (or, as a minimum, straddle two adjacent tiles) earns points for his or her team. The first team to reach a specified target score, or to accumulate the most points over a given number of rounds, wins.

In the modern era, domino sets are usually made of polymer materials such as clay, resin or plastic, but in the past, sets were often constructed from natural substances such as bone, ivory or a dark hardwood such as ebony with contrasting black or white pips. Sets are also available in a variety of shapes and sizes, with some sets including as many as 120 or more pieces.

The first domino falls because it has potential energy, or the tendency to remain standing if no force is exerted on it. But when a tiny nudge is applied, much of that potential energy is converted to kinetic energy, or the energy of motion. That energy pushes the next domino over, and so on. The chain of dominoes continues until it is broken, or the number of potential pips on an opposing player’s tiles has been exhausted.

Dominoes are used as components of rube goldberg machines, and giant domino displays are sometimes created by artists for public events such as birthday parties or anniversaries. They can also be a tool for writers to illustrate scenes or advance themes in fiction and nonfiction. In a novel, for instance, a single scene domino might be a character’s reaction to a particular situation; a series of such scene dominoes might build toward a climactic moment in the story.

The term domino is also used in computer science to refer to the state of a system that has been programmed for a particular function. For example, a domino program might be written to test whether a particular system will perform a certain task. A domino system is often written in a high-level programming language such as C or Java. The system is then run by an operating system, which interprets the instructions and executes them. The result is often a machine that does what the programmer intended, and in some cases, more than the programmer expected. This is because the operating system makes use of the domino effect, or the principle that a single action can influence a series of subsequent actions. The Domino Effect is a key aspect of computer programming. It is also a popular theme in novels such as The Hobbit and The Game of Thrones.