on 24 April 2011
Rosenthal has written an excellent book. It covers a lot of ground, but is truly accessible to the non-mathematical reader. To my surprise, avoiding mathematics does not detract from the message. The carefully constructed numerical examples more than make up for it.
In the first place, I want to complement the author on the range of topics he covers. He starts with the well-known concepts in game theory, such as Prisoner's Dilemma. But he moves on to the most interesting generalisations, such as Nash equilibrium and Pareto optimality. Even more interesting, he addresses topics which are still being actively researched, such as games with incomplete information. Also, unlike some other writers, Rosenthal has also covered cooperative games, which involve sharing of rewards.
Personally, what I found most appealing is the range of applications he discusses. Rosenthal is clearly widely read and his erudition shows through. Voting, auctions, biology as well as many everyday situations all show up all over the book. In particular, I find the examples from evolution theory particularly interesting. Even specialists in these areas who are not mathematically knowledgeable would benefit from reading and understanding the concepts in game theory.
Finally, game theory has a history of dense writing, starting with Von Neumann and Morgensten's unreadable tome. This book goes a long way towards remedying that.