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Game Theorists win Nobel Prize

Newspapers recently have carried articles (usually delegated on a back page) that two researchers have won the Nobel Memorial Prize in economic sciences, following in the footsteps of John Nash (as portrayed in the film A Beautiful Mind). The announcement was made in an official Press Release by the Royal Swedish Academy of Science.

The research of both men used mathematical techniques from game theory to explain major political and economic conflicts. The $1.3 million award is being shared by Robert Aumann (Hebrew University) and Thomas Schelling (University of Maryland).

First, in his book The Strategy of Conflict (1960), Schelling used game theory to examine how the United States and the former Soviet Union lived within the shadow of nuclear annihilation and still maintained credible threats (that were not likely to be implemented). For more information about Schelling's work using game theory, pursue these links: Schelling article, Schelling's website, and Schelling review.

Second, Aumann used game theory to explain why cooperation amongst many participants is difficult in economic conflicts such as price wars and trade wars. For more information about Aumann's work using game theory, consider the recent article in the Notices of the AMS (January 2006) or pursue these links: Aumann article, Aumann's website, and Aumann review.

Numerous texts and Internet sites provide more information about game theory itself (do a "google" and be prepared to explore the 42 million hits). Some understandable references are Roger McCain's on-line text, the Stanford Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and David Levine's explanation.

Now, does this mean that we can expect new films such as Revenge of a Beautiful Mind or A Beautiful Mind Revisited?