Rock, Paper, Scissors: Game Theory in Everyday Life

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Praised by Entertainment Weekly as “the man who put the fizz into physics,” Dr. Len Fisher turns his attention to the science of cooperation in his lively and thought-provoking book. Fisher shows how the modern science of game theory has helped biologists to understand the evolution of cooperation in nature, and investigates how we might apply those lessons to our own society. In a series of experiments that take him from the polite confines of an English dinner party to crowded supermarkets, congested Indian roads, and the wilds of outback Australia, not to mention baseball strategies and the intricacies of quantum mechanics, Fisher sheds light on the problem of global cooperation. The outcomes are sometimes hilarious, sometimes alarming, but always revealing. A witty romp through a serious science, Rock, Paper, Scissors will both teach and delight anyone interested in what it what it takes to get people to work together.
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About the author

Len Fisher, Ph.D., is Visiting Research Fellow in the Physics Department at the University of Bristol. He is the author of Weighing the Soul and How to Dunk a Doughnut, which was named Best Popular Science Book of 2004 by the American Institute of Physics. He has been featured on the BBC, CBS, and the Discovery Channel, as well as in newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal, the San Francisco Chronicle, and more. He is the recipient of a 1999 IgNobel Prize for calculating the optimal way to dunk a doughnut. He lives in Wiltshire, England, and Blackheath, Australia.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Basic Books
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Published on
Nov 4, 2008
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Pages
288
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ISBN
9780786726936
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Language
English
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Genres
Mathematics / Game Theory
Science / System Theory
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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"The best book available for non-mathematicians." — Contemporary Psychology.
This book represents the earliest clear, detailed, precise exposition of the central ideas and results of game theory and related decision-making models — unencumbered by technical mathematical details. It offers a comprehensive, time-tested conceptual introduction, with a social science orientation, to a complex of ideas related to game theory including decision theory, modern utility theory, the theory of statistical decisions, and the theory of social welfare functions.
The first three chapters provide a general introduction to the theory of games including utility theory. Chapter 4 treats two-person, zero-sum games. Chapters 5 and 6 treat two-person, nonzero-sum games and concepts developed in an attempt to meet some of the deficiencies in the von Neumann-Morgenstern theory. Chapters 7–12 treat n-person games beginning with the von Neumann-Morgenstern theory and reaching into many newer developments. The last two chapters, 13 and 14, discuss individual and group decision making. Eight helpful appendixes present proofs of the famous minimax theorem, several geometric interpretations of two-person zero-sum games, solution procedures, infinite games, sequential compounding of games, and linear programming.
Thought-provoking and clearly expressed, Games and Decisions: Introduction and Critical Survey is designed for the non-mathematician and requires no advanced mathematical training. It will be welcomed by economists concerned with economic theory, political scientists and sociologists dealing with conflict of interest, experimental psychologists studying decision making, management scientists, philosophers, statisticians, and a wide range of other decision-makers. It will likewise be indispensable for students in courses in the mathematical theory of games and linear programming.
When J. D. Williams wrote this entertaining, witty introduction for the nonscientist, game theory was still a somewhat mysterious subject familiar to very few scientists beyond those researchers, like himself, working for the military. Now, over thirty years after its original publication as a Rand Corporation research study, his light-hearted though thoroughly effective primer is the recognized classic introduction to an increasingly applicable discipline. Used by amateurs, professionals, and students throughout the world in the classroom, on the job, and for personal amusement, the book has been through ten printings, and has been translated into at least five languages (including Russian and Japanese).
Revised, updated, and available for the first time in an inexpensive paperback edition, The Compleat Strategyst is a highly entertaining text essential for anyone interested in this provocative and engaging area of modern mathematics. In fully illustrated chapters complete with everyday examples and word problems, Williams offers readers a working understanding of the possible methods for selecting strategies in a variety of situations, simple to complex. With just a basic understanding of arithmetic, anyone can grasp all necessary aspects of two-, three-, four-, and larger strategy games with two or more sets of inimical interests and a limitless array of zero-sum payoffs.
As research and study continues not only in this new discipline but in the related areas of statistics, probability and behavioral science, understanding of games, decision making, and the development of strategies will be increasingly important. In the areas of economics, sociology, politics, and the military, game theory is sure to have an even wider impact. For students and amateurs fascinated by game theory's implications there is no better, immediately applicable, or more entertaining introduction to the subject than this engaging text by the late J. D. Williams, Professor of Mathematics at Princeton University and a member of the Research Council of The Rand Corporation.

The human brain has some capabilities that the brains of other animals lack. It is to these distinctive capabilities that our species owes its dominant position. Other animals have stronger muscles or sharper claws, but we have cleverer brains. If machine brains one day come to surpass human brains in general intelligence, then this new superintelligence could become very powerful. As the fate of the gorillas now depends more on us humans than on the gorillas themselves, so the fate of our species then would come to depend on the actions of the machine superintelligence. But we have one advantage: we get to make the first move. Will it be possible to construct a seed AI or otherwise to engineer initial conditions so as to make an intelligence explosion survivable? How could one achieve a controlled detonation? To get closer to an answer to this question, we must make our way through a fascinating landscape of topics and considerations. Read the book and learn about oracles, genies, singletons; about boxing methods, tripwires, and mind crime; about humanity's cosmic endowment and differential technological development; indirect normativity, instrumental convergence, whole brain emulation and technology couplings; Malthusian economics and dystopian evolution; artificial intelligence, and biological cognitive enhancement, and collective intelligence. This profoundly ambitious and original book picks its way carefully through a vast tract of forbiddingly difficult intellectual terrain. Yet the writing is so lucid that it somehow makes it all seem easy. After an utterly engrossing journey that takes us to the frontiers of thinking about the human condition and the future of intelligent life, we find in Nick Bostrom's work nothing less than a reconceptualization of the essential task of our time.
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