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Theory of Games and Economic Behavior Paperback – 21 May 1980

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Paperback, 21 May 1980
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Product details

  • Paperback: 664 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; 3rd edition (21 May 1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691003629
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691003627
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 15.2 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,225,068 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


"Posterity may regard this book as one of the major scientific achievements of the first half of the twentieth century. This will undoubtedly be the case if the authors have succeeded in establishing a new exact science--the science of economics. The foundation which they have laid is extremely promising."--The Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society

"One cannot but admire the audacity of vision, the perseverance in details, and the depth of thought displayed in almost every page of the book. . . . The appearance of a book of [this] calibre . . . is indeed a rare event."--The American Economic Review

"The main achievement of the book lies, more than in its concrete results, in its having introduced into economics the tools of modern logic and in using them with an astounding power of generalization."--The Journal of Political Economy

About the Author

John von Neumann (1903-1957) was one of the greatest mathematicians of the twentieth century and a pioneering figure in computer science. A native of Hungary who held professorships in Germany, he was appointed Professor of Mathematics at the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) in 1933. Later he worked on the Manhattan Project, helped develop the IAS computer, and was a consultant to IBM. An important influence on many fields of mathematics, he is the author of "Functional Operators, Mathematical Foundations of Quantum Mechanics", and "Continuous Geometry" (all Princeton). Oskar Morgenstern (1902-1977) taught at the University of Vienna and directed the Austrian Institute of Business Cycle Research before settling in the United States in 1938. There he joined the faculty of Princeton University, eventually becoming a professor and from 1948 directing its econometric research program. He advised the United States government on a wide variety of subjects. Though most famous for the book he co-authored with von Neumann, Morgenstern was also widely known for his skepticism about economic measurement, as reflected in one of his many other books, "On the Accuracy of Economic Observations" (Princeton). Harold Kuhn is Professor Emeritus of Mathematical Economics at Princeton University. Ariel Rubinstein is Professor of Economics at Tel Aviv University and at New York University. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars 14 reviews
105 of 114 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An Obvious Classic But . . . 23 Oct. 2002
By K. Yost - Published on
Format: Paperback
Let me start out by acknowledging that this is THE BOOK that started Game Theory as it exists today. While Bayesian statistics are an obvious precursor, everyone agrees that von Neumann's and Morgenstern's work was ground breaking.
That said, this is not the best written Game Theory text out there. Like all seminal works, it suffers from the basic fact that we've learned a lot of new things since the time it was written. Many people have gone on to build and expand on the insights contained in this book, especially in the area of bargaining and cooperative game theory.
This is a very impressive book to keep on your shelf, and the discussion of poker and the role of bluffing is very interesting, but, owing largely to the 60+ years that have passed since its initial publication, it's not the best reference work or study material available.
Another word of warning: The review below is correct that the level of math that you must understand to fully appreciate this book is quite substantial. This book is more for the mathematically sophisticated who want to develop an appreciation for the origins of game theory.
0 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars very fast shipping, great transaction 30 Mar. 2009
By Kimberly Patton - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was very happy with book I received. Book was as described and shipped very fast. Thank You!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Detailed examination of game theory 2 Feb. 2014
By Dr. James V. Blowers - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this book when I was a teenager, in the early 1960s. I found that it explained a lot of things about game theory, but found it went into detail in some places, and I turned to Dresher's Theory of Games of Strategy and Luce and Raiffa's Games and Decisions for simpler explanations. I ordered the book now to look at what I studied so long ago. It is indeed highly detailed - the detail surprised me in some cases. And I found that the theory it presents can't always be applied to the real world. But I liked the book so well that I ordered it in 2013, or more than 50 years later.
135 of 142 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Landmark work but heavy going 23 Aug. 2000
By Mark - Published on
Format: Paperback
I'm not even sure I'm qualified to pass judgement on this book, but what I understand, I give 5 stars without hesitation. The authors discuss almost every class of game (2-person, 3-person, zero-sum, non-zero-sum, etc.) and even a very simplified version of poker.

You basically have to be a mathematician to get full value from this book. This book is absolutely full of equations and complex proofs. For a beginner with little math, I'd recommend Game Theory by Morton Davis, or for someone with some university math I'd recommend Games and Decisions by Luce and Raiffa. However, if your math is good, you might as well go straight to this book, which started the whole field of game theory.
3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Like reading murky Elizabethan prose for this generation of game theorists 21 April 2009
By Bachelier - Published on
Format: Paperback
Like reading murky Elizabethan prose for this generation of game theorists.

Theory of Games and Economic Behavior (TGEB) is the Ur-text of game theory, and Morgenstern and von Neumann bridge the gap and make discoveries between logical positivism, formal logic, choice sets, number theory, and binomial and multinomial outcomes.

But in retrospect, this work is rather cumbersome and notation, because so much of it was new, is often baffling to those who have learned game theory from more modern lecturers: a lot of clarity and light has been shed on the field since this was written.

As brilliant as the insights of von Neumann, and to a lesser extent Morgenstern, were, they were building in response to the nearly simultaneous discoveries by Nash of a new sub-set of mathematics, and like all new fields the first expression needed editing and focus. For this is this work's flaw: it attempted as a first expression of a new field to be comprehensive. Whereas Nash's discovery of equilibrium was lean and concise, with profound reverberations throughout decision sciences, TGEB is bloated and sometimes misguided: economics is too huge a field, and even then the concept of homo economicus rationalis was crumbling under the discovery that people make suboptimal decisions all the time.

For those who are reading this for historical curiosity, I suggest William Poundstone's "Prisoner's Dilemma" in conjunction with TGEB, but frankly modern expressions of game theory in more abbreviated texts such as Harold Kuhn's works are actually better because they've cleaned out the dead ends and tightened up the notation and expression.
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