Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Game Theory 101

First of all the title "game theory" is misleading - Von Neuman's obsession with poker started it - but it has long ago escaped the confines of games. Better would be "interactive theory" perhaps.

Anyway. Very basically the theory studies individuals or groups of agents - active objects with the ability to make 'choices' or at least implement strategies, even if they are rigidly confined by either biology/genetics, society or programming in the case of simulations. I'd argue you can also apply it to interactions between anything and anything as long as the two systems are reactive - ie having effect upon each other - but that might just be me.

Anyway. It cuts the various acts of reciprocation down into two basic responses:

Co-operation: This means things like fair trading practices, fidelity in relationships, alliance in war, adherrence to social contracts, sticking to the rules and not punching your opponent straight in the gonads in boxing matches - that kinda stuff.

Non-co-operation: This can mean anything from sticking a spear or putting a bullet into someone at one extreme, to not quite pulling your full weight in a group endeavor - Imagine 6 guys shouldering a coffin full of very fat guy for example. Bearers 1 through 5 are all putting their backs into it, but bearer 6 is just pretending - at the other end of the scale.

Let's shorten them to co and no to save my tendons.



Anonymous said...


Just saying hello while I read through the posts

hopefully this is just what im looking for looks like i have a lot to read.

Tab said...

Hey Anon,

Hope it helps you in whatever you're doing.