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Theory of Moves Paperback – 17 Mar 1994


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Review

' … should provide interesting reading to those who favour the direct interplay between the method and its applications … contributes to an important debate on the current directions of the game theory research program, especially in its extension to political science and international relations.' Public Choice

Book Description

This exciting new approach to game theory elucidates the role that different kinds of power may have on conflict outcomes, and also shows how misinformation affects 'player' choices.

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Amazon.com: HASH(0x8b3f3660) out of 5 stars 4 reviews
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8c210450) out of 5 stars Remarkable , thought provoking and inspiring . 23 May 2002
By Eran Cohen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
To me , "Theory of Moves" (TOM) is the first academic book I have read cover to cover with great interest . I discovered this book in the course of the last semester , being one of the must reads for the game theory course I'd taken , and once I got my hands on this book I couldn't wait to have the time to read it thoroughly , a task I completed only lately .
Game theory in general and TOM in particular , have given me a new way of looking at the world surrounding me ; I feel like I understand it better than before I've learned to use this logical and rational thinking . Many things look simpler now , since the facts and principals I've learned make them comprehensible , understandable and clearer than before .
Prior to reading this book you'd have to have some background on the classical game theory . I learned this background mainly from the booklet of Frank Zagare that pretty much covered all the main basic principals of the qualitative use of the theory . Morton Davis is also a good choice for beginners , both center on the non-mathematical aspects of the theory which are used to dissect and explain the decisions of players at matters of internal politics ,international relations and everyday's life serious decisions people make .
This work represents an extension of game theory that helps to adjust it better to real life , or as Brams puts it : "The Theory of Moves brings a dynamic dimension to the classical theory which was defined as static , by postulating that players think ahead not just to the immediate consequences but also to the consequences of the other player's countermove , counter countermove and so on ... TOM extends the strategic thinking into the more distant future . "
Brams , in his book , gives all the tools needed to learn and understand everything about his fascinating theory . This effort is mostly a summation of more then two decades of trial and error , deep investigations , constant changes and improvements , and examination of a myriad of case studies .
The major concepts and issues you are going to read about and be captivated with will start with the 'Anticipation Problem' , going through 'Magnanimity' with the teasing theme - "it sometimes pays ...", 'Moving Power' , 'Order' and 'Threat power' , ending with 'Information Problems' in games such as 'Misperception' (which is enormously intriguing concept to capture) , 'Deception' and 'Omniscience' . There is also an additional chapter that was difficult for me to understand , in which Brams offers a new model of negotiations .
Each chapter is written with the well known form of introduction - theory principals - applications , in addition to a last chapter that concludes the entire book . This design is very helpful since whenever you have problems understanding the theory - you can immediately skip to the examples Brams is generous with giving - and solve all the unclear points instantly . As for the style itself , we're dealing here with a first class author that has the outstanding ability to keep you thrilled all along the reading effort , winding up asking for more ...
From what I've gathered so far this is the best book you can get about this brilliant extension . I believe everyone that is interested in expanding horizons in this evolving field should read this book , and maybe add further applications and modifications in the future to come .
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8ba81318) out of 5 stars Fascinating Analysis of Possibilities and Results 7 Aug. 2004
By JON STRICKLAND - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Steven Brams' Theory of Moves is a fascinating publication that supplies qualitative and quantitative mathematical models used to explain the merits and deficiencies in the logic of hypothetical and anecdotal decisions of various types (economic, political, social, etc.).

Brams intermittently isolates two-party conflicts and highlights each conceivable resolution by using a 2x2 matrix that gives a variety of possibilities provided in ordered pair combinations, where the numbers range from a 1, which translates to a worst case scenario for the party concerned, to a 4, which is the best possible outcome. For instance, a (1,4) would be interpreted as a two-party game where the deciding party, who receives a 1, ends up with the theoretically worst possible outcome, leaving the opponent, which receives a 4, with the best. As another case, a (3,2) would be read as a pairing where the 3 represents a next-to-best outcome for the decision making party, whereas the 2, on the other hand, would be the next-to-worst outcome for the opponent.

Brams looks at various situations, comparing and contrasting, for instance, the fictional works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, whose most famous character, the detective Sherlock Holmes, always comes out one step ahead of his arch nemesis, with those that display what is referred to as the Minimax Theorem, which espouses that "[i]n a two-person constant-sum game,[it] guarantees that each player can ensure at least a certain expected value, called the value of the game, that does not depend on the strategy choice of the other player". Among the works in this latter category is William Faulkner's Light in August, where a chase scene is partially deconstructed by Brams in such a way that argues that, unlike Doyle, whose protagonist is portrayed as a character with computational abilities that are superior to those of the antagonist, who never, in turn, makes the necessary adjustments to place himself or herself at an unequivocally victorious stage, Faulkner understood the mixed strategies involved in a two-person sum game where, perhaps, a decision made by the inferior might have the silver bullet effect to overcome the superior.

As a relevant case that might be brought forth, sports analysts paid special attention to the selection of players for the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team. After the best American players, even at the top of the National Hockey League, had previously been beaten by the Soviets time and again, the hopes of ever defeating Russia, especially in 1980, were dim. What transpired to be the Miracle on Ice was regarded by sports historians as essentially this. Though decision making officials were inclined to put together what were deemed the very best of the best, the U.S. coach used, as I recall, a counterintuitive approach by forming a team that largely consisted of players with, perhaps, less talent than the hockey elite but, nonetheless, an overall determination to win which could not be denied. In other words, the U.S. probably did not have its best team that day, but it had, more importantly, the right team.

Throughout Theory of Moves, Brams portrays various situations where diplomacy and compromise are the appropriate, realistic approaches to dealing with an opponent. For instance, if the outcome is ideologically next-to-best, it might, in reality terms, be the applicable best, especially in cases where the opponent has interests that run counter to those of the decision maker. In those particular scenes, Brams provides further outlets of analyses, expounding upon where it is not worth pursuing the attainment or maintenance of the best possible state; in discussion, Brams introduces us to magnanimity, which is a transfer of moving from what was the best possible state to the next-best possible. Magnanimity, according to Brams, is essential, especially if what was regarded as the best possible situation devolves into a worst case Status Quo, where the opposing party, over time, grows resentful and decides to rise up in hostile action.

What have been provided in these few paragraphs are only a handful of terms that Brams gives in these roughly 215 pages, for there are so many angles for the reader to look upon. In fact, the information and explanations are so thorough and detailed that once a person gains a more refined appreciation or understanding of the decision making powers or adjustments necessary for optimal outcome in game theory, he or she can apply it in life, especially when making personal decisions and effectively dealing with the dilemma that we often put 80% of our energies into what amounts to only 20% of what is really of immediate importance.

Theory of Moves is a definite must have. Quite a bit of the language is technical, but there is enough induction applied where one can draw enough analogies and parallels to what is discussed so as to relate to the points that Brams is getting across.
HASH(0x8cba2bdc) out of 5 stars Moving Ahead in Game Theory 14 July 2013
By Gary Dameron - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had enjoyed Steven Brams' book on game theory in the Old Testament, Biblical Games. Biblical Games: Game Theory and the Hebrew Bible As career "Cold Warrior," game theory was always fascinating to me, though I think its usefulness has been a bit exaggerated. This is because most approaches to game theory are static. Pick a strategy (one-shot or mixed) and stick with it. Most explanations assume the players will always stick with one strategy. In this book, Steven Brams explores the motivations to change strategy as the game and its ramifications unfold. The results are fascinating--and much more realistic. If you're not a game theory afficianado, though, the writing is a little dry. That's why I would say this book is for someone who enjoys the topic, and enjoys its application to history on their own merits. It's not a fun-and-breezy light read! It's a book for those who love game theory.
3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8b944a98) out of 5 stars Excellent treatise 29 Jun. 2003
By David M. Swagler - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The next step on the journey to understanding and applying game theory. Also, check out "Game Theory at Work" by James Miller.
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