The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Some game theory, anyone'

Mumbai, Jan. 7: Will somebody please come out with a Duffer’s Guide to the Game Theory'

Everyone is talking hoarse about the theory. Because John Nash, the original for the four-Oscar A Beautiful Mind, who won the Nobel for his contribution to the theory — and not necessarily in that order — is in town.

Although the film, starring Russell Crowe, has made the theory a familiar phrase, the great man — who overcame schizophrenia to go on with his research — remains far from comprehension.

At a news conference today, Nash, who is here to attend the international conference of the Game Theory Society, sat covering his face to save himself from the photographers’ flashbulbs. When he recovered, he spoke little.

Looking frail and tired, Nash, who teaches mathematics at Princeton University, said that in India, the Game Theory could be applied profitably to economic fields, mentioning export in particular.

He would only entertain questions about the theory, and not about the film or his personal life, though he has been quoted as saying that the film did not portray his life accurately.

His other colleagues, however, tried hard to shed light on the theory.

Put simply, it is a science of prediction, like a game — chess, or gambling — which studies the behaviour of rational decision-makers when they are involved in a situation of conflict, with the decision of any one individual affecting others.

It has been applied to economics and market forces for a long time, but now it has moved out of its confines, said Robert J. Aumann, who teaches at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. It is being applied to evolutionary science, with species and genes too acting like players vis-à-vis each other, to politics, international relations or computer science.

The theory is being used widely by the computer industry, said Manoj Kumar, director, India Research Laboratory, IBM. On its centennial year, the Taj Group of Hotels is hosting the two-day conference, starting tomorrow, with IBM.

The theory can’t be applied to the study of Indo-Pak relations, but can be in the case of Indian elections, Aumann said. Game Theory can be used to predict the strength of coalitions in a government, an IBM researcher said.

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