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Game Theory: A Nontechnical Introduction, by Morton D. Davis

  1. #1
    Trusty Sidekick Tails's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2004

    Game Theory: A Nontechnical Introduction, by Morton D. Davis

    Genre: Nonfiction
    Date of publication: July 10, 1997
    Publisher: Dover Publications
    ISBN Number: 0486296725


    Book score: 84 (Very Good)

    Concept: 5
    Difficulty: 4
    Enjoyment: 3
    Length: 3
    Reread ability: 2

    Sequels/Prequels: No
    Film/Animated adaptations: No
    Fan Fiction/Art: No


    Game theory is a branch of applied mathematics which studies how factors such as probability and personality affect our decision making in certain situations. This book gives a brief overview of the field and describes its applications without getting too technical for the average reader to understand.

    Each chapter in the book is devoted to defining and discussing a certain type of game, such as two-player competitive games, two-player cooperative games, or n-person games. Each chapter starts with a few sample problems which test the reader's initial savvy on the subject. For example:

    "A company's cash is contained in two safes, which are kept some distance apart. There is $90,000 in one safe and $10,000 in the other. A burglar plans to break into one safe and have an accomplice set off the alarm in the other one. The watchman has time to check only one safe; if he guards the wrong one, the company loses the contents of the other safe, and if he guards the right one, the burglar leaves empty handed. From which safe is a sophisticated burglar more likely to steal? With what probability? What should the watchman do, and how much on average, will be stolen?" (pg. 24)

    As the chapter discusses the mathematics and logic behind these specific types of games, the solutions and probabilities become clearer. Different formulas and equations will make clearer what the best course action is for either side. The book will give a history of these formulas and methods and the game theorists who developed them (such as John Nash). The book will also extrapolate these examples into real life situations in business, gambling, warfare, and diplomacy.

    This book really changed the way I thought about making decisions. It introduced a mathematic angle to risk, decisions, and diplomacy I hadn't thought of before.

    Good Stuff:

    Interesting, informative, and well organized.

    Bad Stuff:

    May get confusing.

  2. #2
    Just how techical is the book? I've tried reading some game theory books before but frankly once they start using math shorthand and using greek letter for variables I get totally lost.

    From what I understand of game theory it is interesting. But the problem is I'm no good at math and a lot of these books seem like you need a degree in math to understand.

  3. #3
    Trusty Sidekick Tails's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    The book does make an effort to avoid too much mathematics, but even if you do encounter some complex calculations you can, for the most part, skip them and still have a good understanding of the examples.

  4. #4
    Poster Formerly Known As naradaman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Melbourne, Australia
    I've been interested in game theory since I came across it on wiki. Maybe I'll pick this book up.
    "So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark — that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back."

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