12 of 18 people found the following review helpful
All-around weak, but has a lot of problems and a website,
This review is from: Game Theory Evolving (Paperback)
Oy, so, as a collection of *a lot* of problems, it's great; and that makes it pretty great. By any other standard, and for any other use than reference (to problems, not ideas), it's junk, however, hardly approaching the normal standards of Princeton's UP, I've gotta think.
There are numerous errors in the problems (I haven't seen any in the answers yet and the monkey problem other reviewers criticize is correct). I happened to skip to Markov chains, for example, and not only was there a pair of typographical errors (some mis-TEXing; not the author's fault, I suppose), but also a mistake in the first example after the description.
The good news is he's fixed the mistakes and gone and written a whole new chapter on "markov economies" and posted it all online. Better news would be a new, more carefully edited, edition, or at least a separate file online of corrections, so one doesn't have to search your (yeah, he seems be active on Amazon) new-made chapters, with their unfortunate numbering conventions (putting two-sentence problems on the same stratum as solution concepts results in some inconvenience & incoherence).
Beyond these editing errors, the book seems to be heavy on text and short on rigor (at least outside of big blocks of text, that is), and citations (he doesn't like other game theorists!). The organization is also poor, even within chapters; as mentioned above a new chapter was inserted since publication.
So, in summary,
Pros: includes originality (he hates theorists of game theory proper!) for the uninitiated, and lots of examples and a website with corrections and updates
Cons: useless for reading, learning or teaching from, etc.
Okay, so no, he doesn't hate game theorists; he just tries hard to evolve his way out of the ambiguities of "classical" game theory. Needless to say, evolution is hard to do on one's own.
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Initial post: Feb 17, 2007, 3:42:02 AM PST
Herbert Gintis says:
I am the author. My background is in physics and biology, where rigor is bull****. If you want rigor, study math. The important thing is to be able to use the theory to solve problems that you care about. By the way, most physics departments teach their own math classes precisely because the object to the "rigor" that mathematicians care about. I think it is a mistake to have the basic theory coursres in economics taught by theorists who care about "rigor." They should be taught by people who know the theory well, but care mostly about applying it. It is in this spirit that I wrote Game Theory Evolving. Snobs can get their rigor elsewhere (by the way, conceptual rigor is usually accompanied by an appalling absence of common sense in evaluating the plausibility and applicability of results.
In reply to an earlier post on Apr 11, 2008, 7:35:46 AM PDT
I just noticed your reply and want to apologize. My review was immature and more or less incoherent. It's interesting that you go so heavy on "rigor," though, which only came up in passing. What I meant was that you use all the trappings of rigorous theory, but explain them in large blocks of text (instead of with pictures, illustrations of the intuition or definitions, any of which would help us understand what's involved). For example,* the pruning chapter leaves examples as exercises. Also, because no other definitions are given, students cannot answer conceptual questions in their own words, only yours. Of course, that would be okay with a teacher's help, but for independent study...well, I've already given my opinion above. Anyway, I have yet to teach such a class, so I'm in no position to comment. If I do, I hope my liking rigor and such doesn't hold me back.
My main problem with the book wasn't a lack of rigor, but a lack of an editor. Not that my intentions matter.
*I don't have the book with me, so I'm going by Google books.
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