Domino is a game of skill and luck that is played with domino pieces, each bearing an arrangement of spots like those on dice. A domino set may be made from a variety of materials, including silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory, dark hardwoods such as ebony and bone with black or white pips inlaid, and polymer resins and plastics. In addition to being used for the game, dominoes are also popular as decorative items in homes and restaurants.
The game of domino originated in the early 18th century, appearing first in Italy and then spreading to France, where it became a fad. The name, however, is much younger, appearing only in the mid-18th century. Its origin is unknown, although one theory suggests it derived from the French word for a long, hooded robe worn together with a mask at a masquerade.
In the game, players take turns placing dominoes on the table, positioning them so that their matching ends touch each other. The resulting chain is a long line of connected tiles that develops into a snake-like shape depending on the whims and limitations of the playing surface. The end of a domino that is exposed during play, or is otherwise visible to opponents, must be either an empty space or a tile with a number showing at both ends, called a double. A player may not play a piece with the same number as the double, but instead must lay another tile that produces an empty space or a new total.
When the last domino is placed, the remaining players score points according to their combined totals of all pips on their remaining tiles. The winners are those with the highest scores, and the game stops when a player cannot continue.
There are numerous rules for different games, and a wide variety of combinations of tiles. Some of the most popular variations include the matching of digits, doubling, and the use of special symbols such as wildcards. The game is also often played against the clock, and it is possible to win in timed rounds by achieving certain goals.
In addition to the traditional game, domino can be used for a variety of educational purposes, from teaching math and probability to improving hand-eye coordination. There are even domino apps for smartphones and tablets, allowing players to practice their skills on the go. The ability of a computer to manipulate the numbers and patterns on dominoes has led to new types of games, such as the physics-based Domino Data Lab, which is aimed at making it easier for scientists and engineers to perform complex statistical analysis. The app allows for the integration of version control systems such as Bitbucket and provides a workspace to test out models and run jobs. It also features a drag-and-drop interface that makes it easy for users to create and modify their projects. The app is available for free for both iOS and Android devices.