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# Game Theory: A Nontechnical Introduction (Dover Books on Mathematics)

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on 16 April 2015
I found this book at a used book store and while I generally need little prodding to purchase a math book, in this case a quick glance through the first few pages convinced me to purchase it. Although human emotions are powerful forces in our lives, many of our decisions are still made based on rational thought and perceived benefit. This is the realm of game theory, which is an analysis of decision-making based on the interpretation of rewards and punishment.
The first games examined in this book are the standard ones of two-person zero-sum games, first with and then without equilibrium points. A two-person zero-sum game is one where the winnings of one player must match the losses of the other. In other words, the sum total of value held by the two players is a constant. This is followed by an examination of utility theory, which is a determination of the true value of the rewards and punishments. It is here where emotions and personal preference are the strongest. Something as simple as bragging rights can often have more value than large monetary payments. The next chapter deals with two-person non-zero-sum games, where the total value held by the two players is not a constant. The last chapter deals with n-person games, which are difficult to analyze, but are the most interesting because they are closest to life. Success in n-person games almost always requires the formation of a cooperative, in the sense that there is the potential for a coalition that can dominate everyone else.
What I enjoyed the most about this book was the examples and the problems. At the start of the chapters, there is a set of questions that introduce the material, and they are answered at the end of the chapter. In between, the explanations are clear, with a minimum of formulas. I also enjoyed the sections on the various "games" of voting, such as how does a body of legislators decides how to fund projects when each has their pet project that they want to acquire the funding for. It explains some of the labyrinthine features of the congressional process and why it is possible for a deadlock state to develop.
This is one of the best general introductions to game theory that I have seen, the worked problems take you through the features of the games in a step-by-step manner that is very easy to understand.
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on 6 February 2014
I chose this rating because this book does everything that the title says. It is a non technical introduction that I found very easy to get into. It is a well written book which conveys ideas very clearly. I would recommend this to anyone with a passing/beginners interest in the subject of Game Theory.
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on 25 May 2014
The good: Some very practical apparatus as well as some great discussion of the limitations and fortes of the different approaches to solve the problems.
The bad: At times the examples juggle about excessively, it would perhaps be better if each chapter picked one type of scenario(military, business or political) and stuck with it instead of jumping about all the time. I personally found myself going back and fourth sometimes to remember a previous description.

This is my first book on game theory exclusively. I feel like this is a good book for those who will not pursue the matter further, its self-contained and discusses plenty of the approaches briefly enough to get the gist but without really setting up the mathematical basis to take it further.
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on 1 December 2010
I learned a lot from this. The difficulty level is nicely judged though it can be a bit dry at times.
Overall it lived up to its title.
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on 28 February 2010
To me this has been an interesting and serious introduction to game theory. I can only recommend it as a solid introduction to the topic.
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on 5 October 2014
Very good, all as promised
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on 3 June 2016
excellent
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