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Showing posts from February, 2011

Chicken: Game Theory for Noobs

Chicken in game theory refers to a game where opponents are heading towards each other on a narrow road. The first opponent to chicken out loses, while if neither chicken out both end up losing their lives.

Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachov having a staring contest.

Who is silly enough to play chicken?
Men, of course. Grown men. Chicken or brinkmanship is also used as a metaphor for contests where there is very little to gain and much to lose. It's basically the proverbial pissing contest or my dad is bigger than your dad, with bigger risks.

Many are of the opinion that an arms race is an example of chicken, though this is often not the case, as there may be more at stake than pure pride. During the Cold War, for example, the arms race was designed to bankrupt the Russian government, in addition to being a preventative measure against Russia's arms.

Game theory often analyses situations in terms of what could have been had different strategies been followed. In the case of an arm…