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Rock, Paper, Scissors: Game Theory in Everyday Life

Rock, Paper, Scissors: Game Theory in Everyday Life
Author: Len Fisher
ISBN 13: 9780465009381
ISBN 10: 465009387
Edition: First Edition
Publisher: Basic Books
Publication Date: 2008-11-04
Format: Paperback
Pages: 288
List Price: $15.95

The IgNobel Prize-winning author of How to Dunk a Doughnut draws on the science of game theory to explain how human beings cooperate in everyday life.

Publishers Weekly

Physicist and Ig Nobel Prize-winner Fisher (How to Dunk a Doughnut) explores how game theory illuminates social behavior in this lively study. Developed in the 1940s, game theory is concerned with the decisions people make when confronted with competitive situations, especially when they have limited information about the other players' choices. Every competitive situation has a point called a Nash Equilibrium, in which parties cannot change their course of action without sabotaging themselves, and Fisher demonstrates that situations can be arranged so that the Nash Equilibrium is the best possible outcome for everyone. To this end, he examines how social norms and our sense of fair play can produce cooperative solutions rather than competitive ones. Fisher comes up short of solving the problem of human competitiveness, but perhaps that is too tall an order. Game theory works better as a toolkit for understanding behavior than as a rule book for directing it. Fisher does succeed in making the complex nature of game theory accessible and relevant, showing how mathematics applies to the dilemmas we face on a daily basis. (Nov.)

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