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Game Theory: A Nontechnical Introduction (Dover Books on Mathematics) [Paperback]

Morton D. Davis
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 1, 1997 0486296725 978-0486296722 Subsequent
"A lucid and penetrating development of game theory that will appeal to the intuition . . . a most valuable contribution." — Douglas R. Hofstadter
Fascinating, accessible introduction to enormously important intellectual system with numerous applications to social, economic, political problems. Newly revised edition offers overview of game theory, then lucid coverage of the two-person zero-sum game with equilibrium points; the general, two-person zero-sum game; utility theory; other topics. Problems at start of each chapter.

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Game Theory: A Nontechnical Introduction (Dover Books on Mathematics) + Thinking Strategically: The Competitive Edge in Business, Politics, and Everyday Life (Norton Paperback) + The Art of Strategy: A Game Theorist's Guide to Success in Business and Life
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Product Details

  • Series: Dover Books on Mathematics
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications; Subsequent edition (July 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486296725
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486296722
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.4 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,413 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
122 of 123 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Introduction to Game Theory March 3, 2003
As the name implies, this is a non-technical introduction to a very complex and technical subject. As such, the writer walks a very fine line between making the subject matter understandable to the lay-person and providing scientific support for his arguments. He is able to do this with a mixed level of success.
The first few chapters of the book deal with relatively simple subject matter, two person zero sum games. In these chapters, the author is easily able to explain the concepts and solutions without getting technical. However, as the book progresses, the author grapples with ever more complex problems, such as two person non-zero-sum games and with n-person games. As the problems become more complex, the author's explanations become less well organized and clear. It is obvious that behind the arguments stand solid mathematical reasoning, however since the book tries to avoid mathematics as much as possible, many of the explanations and assumptions remain vague.
Although I was familiar with many of the concepts in the book, this is the first book I have read on game theory. Was it worth it? Absolutely. Although I would have liked to receive more in-depth explanations in many cases, I felt that the book opened a window for me into this fascinating world. I was especially pleased with the many real world examples the author uses to illustrate the wide-ranging applications of game theory. These examples include an application of game theory to the evolution of species; and the use of game theory to determine who holds the power in a political system. More well known concepts, such as the Prisoners' Dilemma, are also comprehensively discussed.
Bottom line, this is a really enjoyable book that covers a very challenging subject.
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115 of 122 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good attempt at a difficult undertaking... September 1, 2002
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Davis' book suffers from its very nature -- it attempts to explain a highly technical, that is, mathematical, subject without using mathematics. Davis is only partially successful in avoiding the use of mathematics; given the almost impossible nature ot the task, he does quite a good a job at explaining game theory.

The chapters on zero sum games hold together nicely and manage to leave the reader with an understanding of their nature as well as how to arrive at a Pareto-optimal solution. (Small rant: It drives me absolutely bonkers when I hear business school grads tossing around the word "Pareto" as if they had any idea of what they spoke!) When non-zero sum games are introduced, however, Davis simply cannot overcome the complexity of trying to explain multi-variable solutions with mere words. He resorts to quasi-mathematical explanations or makes assumptions that would not be at all obvious to the lay reader.

This book is an excellent refresher in game theory, or a good primer for those with some knowledge of the topic and some intuitive mathematics.
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An easy to understand introduction to game theory May 24, 2004
I found this book at a used book store and while I generally need little prodding to purchase a math book, in this case a quick glance through the first few pages convinced me to purchase it. Although human emotions are powerful forces in our lives, many of our decisions are still made based on rational thought and perceived benefit. This is the realm of game theory, which is an analysis of decision-making based on the interpretation of rewards and punishment.
The first games examined in this book are the standard ones of two-person zero-sum games, first with and then without equilibrium points. A two-person zero-sum game is one where the winnings of one player must match the losses of the other. In other words, the sum total of value held by the two players is a constant. This is followed by an examination of utility theory, which is a determination of the true value of the rewards and punishments. It is here where emotions and personal preference are the strongest. Something as simple as bragging rights can often have more value than large monetary payments. The next chapter deals with two-person non-zero-sum games, where the total value held by the two players is not a constant. The last chapter deals with n-person games, which are difficult to analyze, but are the most interesting because they are closest to life. Success in n-person games almost always requires the formation of a cooperative, in the sense that there is the potential for a coalition that can dominate everyone else.
What I enjoyed the most about this book was the examples and the problems. At the start of the chapters, there is a set of questions that introduce the material, and they are answered at the end of the chapter. In between, the explanations are clear, with a minimum of formulas.
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51 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for beginner July 16, 2004
This is an extremely well written book. It strikes a good balance between a mere book of giving skin deep introductory knowledge of game theory, and a book with too much technical stuff (esp. mathematical proof). The author made a good job almost like Stephen Hawking and Richard Feyman to explain difficult thing with an easy and friendly way. What's more, the author included also many varies paradoxes, theroms from many great leaders in the game theory's field. In beginning of each chapter, the author listed some questions for the reader to think about, before moving forward. I must say this is a very good book for those who are not very sophisticated and advance in mathematics, or as a very first entry for anyone who wants to pursuit and learn game theory.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Informative and accessible
Game theory is the basis of many modern knowledge about how the human mind works. Based on complex mathematical formulae, it is not evident for the non-expert. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Josep Bonet
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, fairly non-mathematical intro to game theory
Well, as this book's title suggests, it is a fairly "nontechnical" introduction to game theory, which normally includes lots of math. Read more
Published 7 months ago by starshining4ever
2.0 out of 5 stars Find a more recent account of game theory.
A dated view of game theory. Although attempting to write a non-technical look at the subject, the author ran out of ideas to illustrate the concept and ultimately, got into the... Read more
Published 7 months ago by George F. Greenwald
3.0 out of 5 stars Good introduction true to title, but has no explanations on how to...
I have to rate this book as three stars. It may fit the needs of those out there that do not want to be able to work actual problems with the theory, but for me it was not what I... Read more
Published 7 months ago by roger varnadore
3.0 out of 5 stars not quite game theory for dummies
it really interesting book and a really interesting topic. The author does a good job of building up to the more complex aspects of the theory. Read more
Published 7 months ago by SM
1.0 out of 5 stars f
Game Theory: A Non Introduction.Morton D. Davis review and Classic Punch Ball BalloonHow do you rate this product?Thanks for your review
Published 11 months ago by alex
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful information, relatively quick read.
For dry material, it is pretty engaging. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who wants to learn about game theory.
Published 12 months ago by Shaun Brennan
4.0 out of 5 stars Well Pleased
I chose to give the book four stars because of how easy the material is to follow. For the begginer in the area of game theory this is a must.
Published 14 months ago by Dale
3.0 out of 5 stars Game Theory
This book delivers on it's promise. It is a nontechnical introduction to game theory and because of it, I think I understand more about what game theory is and what it can do. Read more
Published 16 months ago by John P
3.0 out of 5 stars Game Theory Schmeary
Not as good as I was promised. It's a decent explanation but I was hoping for something a little different. If that doesn't make sense then I can't help you.
Published 19 months ago by Nathan
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