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Prisoner's Dilemma: John Von Neumann, Game Theory and the Puzzle of the Bomb by Poundstone, William 1st (first) Anchor Books Edition (1993) [Taschenbuch]

William Poundstone
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  • Taschenbuch
  • Verlag: Anchor Books; Auflage: 1st Anchor Books (0100)
  • ASIN: B00DO95RUM
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 4.6 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (7 Kundenrezensionen)
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4.6 von 5 Sternen
4.6 von 5 Sternen
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5.0 von 5 Sternen fun and informative 23. Januar 1999
In my opinion, the Cold War was the most interesting era of all history. This book gives a real sense the the precariousness of the world situation of the time. The fact that liberals like Bertrand Russell advocated going to war with the USSR in the late 40's to prevent them from building a nuclear arsenal shows how fearful people were in the early Cold War. The world may have been saved by Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD), the idea that if both sides have the ability to eliminate the other, neither will act. MAD is a game theoretical concept, and game theory was dirctly resonsible for the ABM treaty. Poundstone does a very good job of explaining game theory, using several examples ranging from prisoners trying to reduce their sentence, to high schoolers trying to get their friends to shave their heads. Von Neumann, inventor of game theory, comes across as one of the geniuses of the 20th century, but not as someone you would want for a boss. Poundstone's story of Von Neumann's life and explainations of game theory are very entertaining, and his profound observations of the Cold War are something that I wish more people were familar with.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Defect or cooperate? 19. Dezember 2003
This is a first rate book for both greenhorns and experts. It starts with a mini-biography of both von Neumann and the RAND Corporation, and covers Nash's idea of equilibrium in context. Symmetric and asymmetric games, pure and mixed strategies, zero and nonzero sum games are defined and discussed. More than ten separate games are presented as very readably as examples. The famous Flood-Dresher experiment is also presented and discussed, indicating that repeated plays do not lead to (Nash) equilibria (optimization ala neo-classical economic theory is not the answer). We are told about von Neumann's awful advice to the US Government to ‚nuke' the USSR immediately in the early fifties, and the reader will not be blamed if she calls to mind the ‚preemptive war in Iraq' based on the Bush Administration's aim/claim ‚to find weapons of mass destruction'. The latter is courtesy of Nietzschean-Bloomian neo-cons like Rumsfeld, Perle, and Wolfowitz.
Poundstone (a former physics student) informs us that war games started with the Prussian military, who invented the mother of all war games, Kriegspiel(=wargame). Von Neumann supposedly played Kriegspiel as a kid. We also learn that the game was still popular among Princeton mathematicians in Nash's time. Psychologically interesting is that vN also experienced a sequence of Cartesian-like dreams in an attempt to prove the key conjecture by Hilbert that Turing later showed to be wrong. vN's belief that neo-classical economic theory is completely wrong is also mentioned. There, as opposed to his advice about ‚preventive war', history has shown him to be dead right.
In the context of the prisoner's dilemma, political conservatives are defined as ‚defectors' while liberals tend to play ‚cooperate'.
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3.0 von 5 Sternen not much of a primer. 31. Januar 2000
Although I enjoyed the book it was, I'm afraid, not much of a primer on game theory. The background and biographical information on Von Neumann was well told but lacked adequate information on his involvement politically. This book is more of a introduction to the IDEA of game theory and falls short of explaining the reality of game theory. Not informative enough, but still entertaining.
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This should be of interest to both readers concerned with Cold War policy and the development of game theory. Poundstone is one of the more gifted writers (at least regarding narrative skills) to address game theory, an often perplexingly technical subject, offering an interesting, fairly comprehensive introduction to the subject without becoming mired in its more technical aspects. And his characterization of von Neumann, an interesting intellect, is able and compelling.
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