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Directly Related To What You Already Know
on 17 December 2002
The enjoyment, or perhaps the utility you'll find with this book, will be directly related to how much you know about Game Theory prior to this read. This book spends, as much time on history and biography as it does on what Game Theory is about, so this work would seem to be most appropriate to those who are new to the material. I had only basic understanding of Game Theory from other books I had read, within which this field of study was mentioned, so for me the book was very worthwhile. The historical and biographic aspects of the book were not new, so there were of less interest to me.
Math need not be a passion for this book to be understood and enjoyed. The various games that are explained and, "played", for the reader actually utilize little in the way of math. Game Theory in practice is about the number of participants, the choices they have, how the games should rationally be played, and how there are played when people replace theory. The results of these games are applicable to daily life, whether it explains how a network will decide the placement of their commercials, why a person will stand in a line of unknown length, or pay more than the true value of an item (like a dollar bill). Peoples behavior often crosses from the irrational to the absurd, and many of these games will point out courses of action almost all readers will have taken at one time or another, when the rational decision was the opposite of what they chose to do.
The book is also a good primer for further reading on Bertrand Russell, John Nash the subject of the movie, "A Beautiful Mind", and John von Neumann, who many considered the most brilliant man alive during his career, and many other great scientists of the 20th Century. There is also review of the development of both the atomic and hydrogen bombs, and the very surprising groups of people that either supported their development and use, and those that were diametrically opposed. There is also some discussion on how Game Theory was and is used to make decisions on a global scale, and also where Game Theory falls short of some of its initial promise.
You will most likely enjoy following "The Prisoner's Dilemma, The Stag Hunt, The Dollar Auction, and So Long Sucker", the last of which often was alleged to have spouses leave the scene of the game is separate cabs. Any one who is inquisitive will enjoy the book, and may be motivated to pursue a variety of its topics further.