The Mathematical Theory of Games Sheds Light On A Wide Range of Competitive Activities
What do chess-playing computer programs, biological evolution, competitive sports, gambling, alternative voting systems, public auctions, corporate globalization, and class warfare have in common? All are manifestations of a new paradigm in scientific thinking, which James Case calls "the emerging science of competition." Drawing in part on the pioneering work of mathematicians such as John von Neumann, John Nash (of A Beautiful Mind fame), and Robert Axelrod, Case explores the common game-theoretical strands that tie these seemingly unrelated fields together, showing how each can be better understood in the shared light of the others. Not since James Gleick's bestselling book Chaos brought widespread public attention to the new sciences of chaos and complexity has a general-interest science book served such an eye-opening purpose. Competition will appeal to a wide range of readers, from policy wonks and futurologists to former jocks and other ordinary citizens seeking to make sense of a host of novel—and frequently controversial—issues.
When we interview for a job, play a pickup game of basketball or check our mutual funds, we're competing with other people. Writer and business consultant Case, who has a Ph.D. in mathematics, surveys the topography of competition to show how it ranges from the complexity of game theory to the simplicity of bidding at an auction. The author begins with an extensive explication of game theory as developed by John von Neumann, John (A Beautiful Mind) Nash and their colleagues. He builds on this foundation to present case studies of competition in practice, such as nations' angling for competitive position in their trade policies. Avid eBayers might pick up helpful hints on competitive strategies, and readers who dabble in the stock market will discover techniques to help in their decision making. Case devotes the latter half of his book to various kinds of economic competition. Futurists, game theorists and economists will likely find much familiar material skillfully packaged, while many general readers will find the book rough sledding. But Case has some new and challenging policy proposals, for instance how to protect workers' interests while avoiding the pitfalls of labor unions, that will spark debate. 40 line drawings.