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Game Theory: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) 1st Edition, Kindle Edition
|Length: 201 pages||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled||Page Flip: Enabled|
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I was very pleasantly surprised. Granted, I didn't get everything straight away, and unlike most other Very Short Introductions, which I was usually able to shoot through in one reading, I found myself puzzling over some of the stuff in this one. However, with a bit of effort I finally figured it out. The book is tough, but so is the subject matter. If you're prepared to spend some time, often frustrating time, with this book, you'll get a lot out of it.
Some of the ideas are expressed in the form of diagrams and as such I it is important to understand the diagrams to see what Binmore is driving at otherwise it is likely that the subject matter will just wash over you, but understanding the diagrams is not all that easy. The same is true of mathematical examples that are given. The problem seems to stem from the lack of space in this book. as such the space required to explain the mathematics or the diagrams is not available and in many cases I have to admit that I cannot work out some of the mathematical examples and this has rather undermined my confidence in my mathematical abilities, something that should be considered a real failing in an introductory book as introductory books should be about building confidence and enthusiasm. This is further compound by the fact I have found genuine mistakes in this book indicating real editing problems. One concept I have consistently struggled with is that of indifference between two pure strategies. This concept is important to understand in terms of mixed strategies (i.e. mixing your pure strategies in an optimal ratio). This is certainly an area where a more expansive explanation would have been useful. Personally I do not see if it is all about the payoffs or the probabilities of receiving those payoffs or are combination of both. As this volume was rather long meant that there was not room at the end of the book for a glossary that is a useful addition to other VSIs and something this VSI would have benefited from.
I question who the target audience for this book are. having read it twice and have struggled with it hard I think it is more aimed at those who are studying a maths degree, perhaps 1st year maths students or perhaps people with an innate ability in maths greater than my own (I certainly do not lay claim to much ability). If you are a general interest reader who would like to learn something about game theory this might not be the book for you. If you do wish to persist I have attached some notes (as comments) on mistakes, my interpretations of some of the diagrams and some of my mathematical workings (please don't laugh if my approach is all wrong - I was trying to understand the maths with little help from Binmore)
I would like to point out that Binmore seems to enjoy taking pot shots at Immanuel Kant throughout this book. I only raise this point as Binmore is rather self-congratulatory and immodest in his belief that he has proved Kant wrong and that his book on morals causes offence to some moral philosophers. I think Binmore's attitude is rather off putting and I believe his position is based on a misunderstanding, conflating categorical and hypothetical imperatives (I've added a 3rd comment to explain this further if anyone is interested).
There are other books that do a far better job.
I enjoy this series of books because they allow access and understanding of the basics of subject which are otherwise difficult to understand. This book is the exception to that and seems to enjoy its impenetrability, I am still no wiser to the basics of game theory and will consider buying introductions by other publishers in future.
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- Well written: Covers plenty of knowledge in a comfortable to read style
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