A Prisoner's Dilemma

A Prisoner's Dilemma

3.91 (1,219 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

Game theory - a branch of mathematics concerned with conflict and deception - is one of the core concepts of our time. "Prisoner's Dilemma" traces the life of John von Neumann, who constructed the theory, invented the digital computer, and played a key role in the development of the atom bomb. William Poundstone, the author of "The Recursive Universe and Labyrinths of Reason", weaves into the story a history of the pivotal phases of the Cold War and an investigation of game theory's far-reaching influence on public policy today.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 301 pages
  • 120 x 190mm | 228g
  • Oxford Paperbacks
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • line figures, bibliography
  • 019286162X
  • 9780192861627

Table of contents

Part 1 Dilemmas: the nuclear dilemma; John von Neumann; prisoner's dilemma. Part 2 John von Neumann: the child prodigy; Kun's Hungary; early career; the institute; Klara; personality; the Sturm und Drang period; the best brain in the world. Part 3 Game theory: Kriegspiel; who was first?; theory of games and economic behaviour; cake division; rational players; games as trees; games as tables; zero-sum games; minimax and cake; mixed strategies; curve balls and deadly genes; the minimax theorem; n-person games. Part 4 The bomb: Von Neumann at Los Alamos; game theory in wartime; Bertrand Russell; world government; operation crossroads; the computer; preventive war. Part 5 The Rand Corporation: history; thinking abouth the unthinkable; surfing, semantics, Finnish phonology; Von Neumann at Rand; John Nash; the Monday-morning quarterback. Part 6 Prisoner's dilemma: the Buick sale; honour among thieves; the Flood-Dresher experiment; Tucker's anecdote; common sense; prisoner's dilemmas in literature; free rider; nuclear rivalry. Part 7 1950: the Soviet bomb; the man from Mars; Urey's speech; the Fuchs affair; the Korean war; the nature of technical surprise; aggressors for peace; Francis Matthews; aftermath; public reaction; was it a trial balloon?; the MacArthur speech; Orvil Anderson; press reaction; how many bombs?; coda. Part 8 Game theory and its discontents: criticism of game theory; utility and Machiavelli; are people rational?; the Ohio State studies. Part 9 Von Neumann's last years: the H-bomb; a very fine tiger; the commissioner; the moment of hope; illness; death. Part 10 Chicken and the Cuban missile crisis: chicken; volunteer's dilemma; volunteer's dilemma experiments; the Cuban missile crisis; the madman theory. Part 11 More on social dilemmas: deadlock; stag hunt; asymmetric games; justifying co-operation; Howard's meta-game; backward induction paradox. Part 12 Survival of the fittest: stable strategies; is defection in the genes?; Robert Axelrod; TIT FOR TAT; the trouble with TIT FOR TAT; artificial selection; the fish in the mirror; co-operation and civilization; TIT FOR TAT in the real world. Part 13 The dollar auction: escalation; Shubik's dollar auction; dollar auctions in real life; strategies; rational bidding; where game theory falls; the largest-number game; feather in a vacuum.
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Rating details

1,219 ratings
3.91 out of 5 stars
5 27% (324)
4 45% (544)
3 23% (279)
2 5% (62)
1 1% (10)
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