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60
votes
50answers
17k views

Which popular games are the most mathematical?

I consider a game to be mathematical if there is interesting mathematics (to a mathematician) involved in the game's structure, optimal strategies, practical strategies, analysis of the game ...
45
votes
9answers
7k views

Does War have infinite expected length?

My question concerns the (completely deterministic) card game known as War, played by seven-year-olds everywhere, such as my son Horatio, and sometimes also by others, such as their fathers. The ...
39
votes
5answers
6k views

Why was John Nash's 1950 Game Theory paper such a big deal?

I'm trying to understand why John Nash's 1950 2-page paper that was published in PNAS was such a big deal. Unless I'm mistaken, the 1928 paper by John von Neumann demonstrated that all n-player ...
23
votes
6answers
3k views

I know that you know…

A bit unsure if the following vague question has enough mathematical content to be suitable upon here. In the case, please feel free to close it. In several circumstances of competition, a particular ...
22
votes
2answers
1k views

Five Front Battle

Two generals are fighting a five front battle. Each general has 1 unit of army, which he divides into five separate armies that he sends to the five fronts. If one general sends more army to a front ...
21
votes
1answer
609 views

The density hex

Gale famously showed that the determinacy of n-player, n-dimensional Hex is equivalent to the Brouwer fixed point theorem in n dimensions. We can (and Gale does) view this as saying that if you ...
19
votes
5answers
554 views

$n$-in-a-row game on $\mathbb{R}^2$

For integers $n$ such that $\:3< n\:$,$\:$ what is known about the following 2-player game: Player_1 and Player_2 take turn choosing points on $\mathbb{R}^2$ that were not previously chosen, with ...
19
votes
3answers
674 views

Escape the zombie apocalypse

Consider zombies placed uniformly at random over $\mathbb{R}^2$ with asymptotic density $\mu$. You are placed at a random point and can move with speed $1$. Zombies move with speed $v\leq 1$ straight ...
16
votes
1answer
458 views

A Ramsey avoidance game

Consider the following game: Given $K_n$ the complete graph on $n$ vertices, two players take turns coloring its edges. Initially no edges are colored. At his turn a player can color a prevoiusly not ...
16
votes
2answers
6k views

Lowest Unique Bid

Each of n players simultaneously choose a positive integer, and one of the players who chose [the least number of [the numbers chosen the fewest times of [the numbers chosen at least once]]] is ...
15
votes
6answers
1k views

Is a fair lottery possible?

I'm trying to come up with a scheme for a lottery where each individual has roughly the same chance of becoming the winner, regardless of the number of tickets one holds. So no individual should have ...
15
votes
1answer
550 views

Paul Erdős: Determine or estimate the number of maximal triangle-free graphs on n vertices

Among the collections of the open problems of Paul Erdős on the website of Professor Fan Chung, there is one called "number of triangle-free graphs". ...
15
votes
1answer
429 views

The Chow & Robbins game ≈ 0.79295350640: improvements could come from simple statistics, or from a continuous version of the game

This question seeks help with improving a numerical estimate of the value of the Chow and Robbins game. Much about this game is unknown, such as whether its value is rational, but there are two routes ...
14
votes
5answers
2k views

Irreversible chess

Suppose we play a chess-variant, where any finite number of pieces are allowed, and the board is as large as we wish, but only two kings in total. And there is no 50 move-rule, no castling and no ...
14
votes
3answers
938 views

Fairest way to choose gifts

Suppose that a parent brings home from a trip $2n$ gifts of roughly equal value for his/her two children. The children get to choose one at a time which gifts they want. What is the fairest way to do ...
14
votes
2answers
2k views

Simple proof of the existence of Nash equilibria for 2-person games?

Is there a nice elementary proof of the existence of Nash equilibria for 2-person games? Here's the theorem I have in mind. Suppose $A$ and $B$ are $m \times n$ matrices of real numbers. Say a ...
13
votes
5answers
1k views

Finding the largest integer describable with a string of symbols of predefined length

(This question is motivated by the reading of the article Large numbers and unprovable theorems by Joel Spencer, which can be found at ...
12
votes
6answers
1k views

Untrustworthy people picking a random number

Inspired by the party game Mafia, in particular those situations where nobody is clearly innocent or guilty and the group wants to decide on someone random to eliminate. Suppose n people each have ...
12
votes
2answers
664 views

An unfair game involving an odd number of pieces of chocolate

Two greedy chocolate eaters play the following game involving $n$ pieces of chocolate and an additional parameter $\alpha$ with initial value $1$: Each player eats either $\alpha$ pieces of chocolate ...
11
votes
5answers
3k views

Guess a number with at most one wrong answer

Consider a game where one player picks an integer number between 1 and 1000 and other has to guess it asking yes/no questions. If the second player always gives correct answers than it's clear that ...
11
votes
1answer
694 views

The Worst Possible Winner

First a little background. In racing it is possible for a player to win a tournament without winning a single race, however, how bad can a tournament winner actually be? Can a player win a tournament ...
11
votes
0answers
411 views

The multiplication game on the free group

Fix $W\subseteq\mathbb F_2$ and consider the following two-person game: Player 1 and Player 2 simultaneously choose $x$ and $y$ in $\mathbb F_2$. The first player wins, say one dollar, iff $xy\in W$. ...
10
votes
12answers
3k views

Are there any interesting connections between Game Theory and Algebraic Topology?

I've been learning game theory on my own and was just curious how it connected with previous things I've learned. So are there any interesting connections between Game Theory and Algebraic Topology? ...
10
votes
9answers
2k views

a mathematically rigorous introduction to game theory

I am looking for the best book that contains a mathematically rigorous introduction to game theory. I am a group theorist who has taken a recent interest in game theory, but I'm not sure of the best ...
10
votes
2answers
445 views

Is quantum game theory reducible to classical game theory?

Quantum game theory is an extension of classical game theory to the quantum domain. It differs from classical game theory in three primary ways: Superposed initial states, Quantum ...
10
votes
2answers
746 views

Is there an equivalent of Heisenberg's uncertainty principle in the decision sciences ?

From memories of a quantum mechanics class and Wikipedia: In quantum mechanics, the uncertainty principle is any of a variety of mathematical inequalities asserting a fundamental limit to the ...
9
votes
3answers
775 views

Nim game for odd number of stones

Consider the classical Nim game with total number of stones being odd. Then the first players wins, of course, what follows from the general description of winning positions. But is there some shorter ...
9
votes
2answers
908 views

The duel problem

The following duel problem is due to Ben Polak (maybe there's earlier origin, which I'll be glad to be informed about). The rule is as follows: Two players 1 and 2 start a duel $N$ steps away from ...
9
votes
1answer
397 views

M-matrix plus S-matrix is P-matrix?

I am trying to prove that a mapping has a unique fixed-point by showing that its Jacobian is a P-matrix. In this particular case the Jacobian can be decomposed as the sum of two matrices and I would ...
8
votes
3answers
433 views

Representing a real number as the value of a countably infinite game

Is it true that for any real number $p$ between 0 and 1, there exist finite or infinite sequences $x_m$ and $y_n$ of positive real numbers, and a finite or infinite matrix of numbers $\varphi_{mn}$ ...
8
votes
3answers
944 views

Weighted Regular Graphs

The following graph theoretic notion appeared in an economics paper entitled: "Prize competition under limited comparability, by Michele Piccione and Ran Spiegler which studies models of economics ...
8
votes
2answers
380 views

A competitive root finding game

Inspired by a question about bisection I wondered about the following: The are two players X and Y and a moderator Z who knows two (random,independent, uniformly chosen) hidden reals $x$ and $y$ from ...
8
votes
0answers
2k views

Group Theory, Game Theory, a bit of Philosophy and a post in Tao's blog

I've decided to write this post after reading the incredibly beautiful and highly recomended post by Terence Tao ...
7
votes
4answers
1k views

Infinite games: are they well defined?

It is just my curiosity about this question where we have an infinite game and (according to the answers) winning strategies for both players. I am familiar with terminating games only, and I am ...
7
votes
3answers
237 views

Can we efficiently compute a third Nash Equilibrium, given two?

A finite, two-player, nondegenerate, symmetric game is defined by a nondegenerate $n \times n$ payoff matrix $A$. If player 1 plays strategy $i$ and player 2 plays strategy $j$, then player 1's ...
7
votes
1answer
218 views

Optimum Tournament Strategy

Consider a symmetric N-player game in which all players partition one total unit of energy among individual games. The probability of winning each game is simply proportional to the spent energy ...
6
votes
1answer
428 views

Determinantal formula for the nullspace of a singular matrix

In June 2012, Bill Press and Freeman Dyson published a remarkable paper on the iterated prisoner's dilemma. A key step in their derivation is a simple fact from linear algebra that I feel I should ...
6
votes
1answer
405 views

Cake-cutting and amenable groups

I recently heard Alan Taylor speak about envy-free fair division and started wondering if questions like these make sense if we replace finitely additive measures with invariant means on amenable ...
6
votes
1answer
735 views

Drawing lines and removing squares - an Alice and Bob game

Thought about the following while in a Complex Analysis lecture: Let there be a $N \times N$ grid of squares and two players $A$ and $B$. First, $A$ needs to draw a line $l$ that needs to intersect ...
6
votes
2answers
251 views

Truthful multi-unit auctions that guarantee selling all items

Suppose an auctioneer has $k$ units for sale. There are $n$ bidders, each of whom are interested in a single good, and have value $v_i$ for it. If bidder $i$ has to pay $p_i$ and gets the good, he ...
5
votes
2answers
506 views

Gandhi's quote formalized [closed]

Hello, I hope this question is appropriate for Mathoverflow. Gandhi said, "Be the change that you wish to see in the world". I don't understand anything in Game/optimization theory (I don't know ...
5
votes
1answer
504 views

Decay of Relative Growth in Conway's Game of Life

Intro The question is about Game of Life. Let us denote the set of points obtained from initial configuration $A$ after $m$ steps as $A(m)$ (we are only interested in finite initial configuration, ...
5
votes
2answers
567 views

Pursuit-Evasion on a Manifold

I know pursuit-evasion has been studied in many contexts, including on a manifold (e.g., Melikyan, "Geometry of Pursuit-Evasion Games on Two-Dimensional Manifolds"), but I have not seen this version: ...
5
votes
2answers
684 views

Is perfect play possible in continuous rock-paper-scissors? game “step size” vs. “acceleration”

The first part of my question is simple: Is every game continuous in time and strategy-space also a game of perfect information with a good equilibrium? For example, consider rock-paper-scissors. The ...
5
votes
1answer
655 views

Algorithm on winning strategy of Winner (Simplified card game)

Here's an introduction to the ordinary Winner (card game): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winner_(card_game) I'm thinking about a simplification of the game. ** I've copied this problem to cstheory ...
5
votes
1answer
447 views

What can be done with computability logic that previous logic systems can't?

I've been reading a lot about computability logic lately and I'm superficially aware that it unifies classical, intuitionistic and linear logics. What I'm seeking to know is: Can computability logic ...
5
votes
1answer
347 views

Resources-Aware Combinatorial Game Theory

First of all, I preemptively apologize if my question happens to be naive, I am no expert of CGT (or general game theory, for that matter). Now the question: **is there such a thing as the study of ...
5
votes
0answers
193 views

Identification of a curious function

The following question was asked on math.stackexchange, but there were no replies. During computation of some Shapley values (details below), I encountered the following function: $$ f\left(\sum_{k ...
5
votes
0answers
729 views

A Fun Game with Coins [closed]

Assume you have a pair number of coins $2n$ with possibly different values, ordered in a line. Let us enumerate the coins as $x_1,x_2,\ldots,x_{2n}$. The coins are not ordered in any particular way. ...
4
votes
1answer
358 views

Did Nash prove that every game or every symmetric game has a symmetric equilibrium?

Most references seem to state that Nash showed every symmetric game has a symmetric equilibrium point, but as far as I can tell from Nash's paper, he actually showed the much more general statement ...