A Prisoner's Dilemma

A Prisoner's Dilemma

3.91 (1,219 ratings by Goodreads)
  • Paperback
By (author) 

List price: US$12.59

Currently unavailable

Add to wishlist

AbeBooks may have this title (opens in new window).

Try AbeBooks


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.
show more

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.
show more

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)
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X