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Robert Vienneau

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Feb 17, 2002, 1:41:20 PM2/17/02
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"Some of the most bizarre and outlandish statements about the
history of economics have recently been made about the role and
accomplishments of the Nash equilibrium concept in game theory.
Much of this cynosure is due to the fact that a broad regiment
of economic theorists have recently sought to write von Neumann
out of the history of game theory to the maximum extent possible,
striving to supplant his legacy with the work of John Forbes Nash.
Gerard Debreu, for instance, pronounced: 'the six years that
followed the first edition of the work of von Neumann and
Morgenstern disappointed the expectations of the economists. Most
of the research done on the theory of games at that time focused
upon the MinMax theorem, which eventually moved off center stage,
and now plays a minor supporting role. Only after 1950, and in
particular after the publication of John Nash's one page article...
did the theory start again to acquire the dominant features that
characterize it today.' One would have thought that it was the
economists who had disappointed von Neumann. And was all that
activity at RAND - activity that Debreu had personnaly witnessed -
just an insignificant detour?

Kenneth Binmore presents the Nash equilibrium as the 'natural'
generalization of von Neumann's minimax, and then asks, 'Why did
von Neumann and Morgenstern not formulate this extension
themselves?' His answer was that they presciently foresaw the
problem of the multiplicity of Nash solutions, and 'therefore
said nothing at all rather than saying something perceived
as unsatisfactory'... If Binmore had attended more closely to
the text of _Theory of Games and Economic Behavior_ (TGEB), he
would have discovered that Von Neumann and Morgenstern positively
embraced the prospect of a multiplicity of solution points. In
Robert Aumann's historical exegesis of game theory, TGEB is
lauded as an 'outstanding event,' but then treated as a mere
transition between the earlier work of von Neumann (1928) and
the subsequent 'Nash program' (1951) of subsuming cooperative
games within noncooperative models. It is praised in a mildly
backhanded manner as breaking 'fundamental new ground' in
defining a cooperative game, the axiomatization of expected
utility, and making 'the first extensive applications of game
theory, mainly to economics'... All of these claims require a
fair supplement of interpretative license in order to accord
them legitimacy, something Aumann apparently felt no
compunction to supply. We have already noted in Chapter 3 that
TGEB bore negligible economic content and was not deeply
concerned with shoring up utility theory, for instance; the
idea that it set out to define the subset of 'cooperative games'
is a post hoc construct. And then there is the crusade by
numerous economists to fabricate a long and hallowed genealogy
for the Nash solution concept entirely bypassing von Neumann,
for, 'as everybody knows, Cournot formulated the idea of a
Nash equilibrium in 1830' (Binmore in Nash, 1996, p. xii).
This bit of wishful thinking has been refuted by Robert
Leonard (1994a).

At the end of the twentieth century, this quest to doctor the
record with regard to Nash and his equilibrium has attained
the status of a public relations campaign with the publication
of a biography of Nash (Nasar, 1998) that became a bestseller
(soon to be a major motion picture directed by Ron Howard and
starring Russell Crowe! Happy Days metts Gladiator! The
possibilities for revisionism are mind-boggling...) and a
commissioned survey in the Journal of Economics Literature
(Myerson, 1999). Although this is not a treatise on the
contemporary sociology of the economics profession, a small
caveat needs to be inserted here about this unusual effusion
of infotainment concerning what must seem, to even the most
avid follower of economics, a topic of rather arid compass
appealing to only the most limited circle of cognoscenti.
Incongruity turns into downright incredulity when one learns
that John Nash refused to cooperate in any way with his
biographer; and that the commissioned JEL survey was never
vetted by any historian familiar with the relevant events,
and consequently the only 'history' to grace the text appears
as a word in its title. The reader should approach these texts
forewarned that John Nash and his equilibrium, through no effort
of his own, have become the object of a vast ceremonial
purification exercise.

Nasar, a journalist, admits that she was tipped off that there
would be a juicy story here before Nash became newsworthy; only
later was he awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1994
jointly with John Harsanyii and Reinhard Selton. She was recruited
as the public face of an extensive campaign of spin doctoring
engineered behind the scenes by a few key figures, primarily
because awarding the prize to Nash itself threatened to pry open
a whole pallet of Pandora's boxes: problems ranging from the
potential embarrassment of an award of a Nobel for the formalization
of rationality to a mentally ill individual, to problems of
justifying the Nash equilibrium as the central concept of choice
of the fin-de-siecle economic orthodoxy in the era of its conceptual
disarray, to a threatened uncovering of the extensive military
involvement in modern orthodox microeconomics, to reopening the
very legitimacy of an economics Nobel situated on a par with the
Nobels for the natural sciences. Nasar does mention each of these
issues but, like most modern journalists, sought to deal with the
seamier side of science by repeating the technical opinions she was
told by her behind-the-scenes informants (citing 'confidential
sources'), and then tarting up the story with lots of titillating
sexual details, shameless appeals to sentimentality, and
irresponsible hyperbole: 'Nash's insights into the dynamics of
human rivalry - his theory of rational conflict and cooperation -
was to become one the most influential ideas of the twentieth
century, transforming the young science of economics the way that
Mendel's ideas of genetic transmission, Darwin's model of natural
selection, and Newton's celestial mechanics reshaped biology and
physics in their day'... Writing serious history of economics is
not easy when boilerplate hyperbole crowds out analysis.

For all its drawbacks, however, Nasar's work is redeemed by her
reporting the best short description of the Nash equilibrium
concept that I have ever read: according to Martin Shubik,
someone who was very familiar with Nash during his Princeton
days, 'You can only understand the Nash equilibrium if you
have met Nash. It's a game and it's played alone'... The
relationship to his 'beautiful mind' is a conundrum best left
for the reader to reconcile."
-- Philip Mirowski, Machine Dreams: Economics Becomes a
Cyborg Science. Cambridge University Press, 2002.

--
Try http://csf.colorado.edu/pkt/pktauthors/Vienneau.Robert/Bukharin.html
To solve Linear Programs: .../LPSolver.html
r c A game: .../Keynes.html
v s a Whether strength of body or of mind, or wisdom, or
i m p virtue, are found in proportion to the power or wealth
e a e of a man is a question fit perhaps to be discussed by
n e . slaves in the hearing of their masters, but highly
@ r c m unbecoming to reasonable and free men in search of
d o the truth. -- Rousseau

Mason Clark

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Feb 17, 2002, 2:16:16 PM2/17/02
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On Sun, 17 Feb 2002 13:41:20 -0500, Robert Vienneau <rv...@see.sig.com> wrote:

> "Some of the most bizarre and outlandish statements about the
> history of economics have recently been made about the role and
> accomplishments of the Nash equilibrium concept in game theory.

I wonder if someone here would be so kind as to supply us with
a one-page description of Nash's contribution?

Mason C

Robert Vienneau

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Feb 18, 2002, 4:29:21 PM2/18/02
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In article <2a007ucnhp3mmr9vn...@4ax.com>,
mas...@ix.netcom.DELETEcom wrote:

Game Theory provides a formal treatment of well-specified
situations in which the outcome depends on the choices of
several agents who may have conflicting interests.

Abstractly, a player chooses a strategy, where a strategy
specifies the player's move in every situation that may arise
in the game. For example, a strategy for white in chess specifies,
roughly white's move for every board configuration in which
it is his turn. This example is rough because white's play
will prevent certain configurations from arising, and his
strategy need not provide a move for those unreachable
configurations. A game tree is a useful representation for
a game in extensive form. I think this definition of a
strategy elides important issues of algorithms and
computational complexity.

A game in normal form lists the players, the strategies for each
player, and the expected payoffs to each player for each combination
of strategies (the payoff matrix). Table 1 gives an example for what
may be the most famous game designed by game theorists. The first
entry in each ordered pair is the payoff to player A when A plays
the strategy indicated by the row label and B plays the strategy
indicated by the column label. The second entry shows the payoff
to player B.

TABLE 1: A PRISONER'S DILEMMA

PLAYER B
STRATEGY Defect Cooperate
Defect (-1, 2) (1/2, 1 )
PLAYER A Cooperate (0, 1/2) (1, -1)

Suppose the payoffs, in each entry in the payoff matrix, summed over
all players to zero. Then the game is the well-known zero sum
game.

Consider simple two-person zero-sum games like "Odds and Evens"
or "Rock, Scissors, Paper". The best strategy is not to play the
same simple strategy over and over, but to randomly mix strategies.
This is an interesting insight from game theory - that randomness
in economics can come from optimal choices even in games with
completely deterministic rules. The probabilities that the players
should choose depend on the payoff matrix. One can formulate a
Linear Program for each player to solve for these probabilities.
Each player assumes that the other player chooses his probabilities
to minimize the other player's loss, given the first player's
probabilities. A minimax problem arises. The neat thing about
the two Linear Programs is that they are dual problems. Although
von Neumann helped develop Linear Program, vN and Morgenstern
don't point out this connection. However, both vN's paper on
activity analysis and vN and M's book used a fixed point theorem
in the proof of the most important relevant theorems.

How to extend the concept of a solution to more than two players,
or to non-constant sum games, is an interesting question. vN and M
introduced "fictional players", so to speak, to make the general
game like a two-person zero-sum game. A dummy player with one
strategy can absorb the losses and winnings in a non-zero sum
game. Thus, the game, with this dummy appended, becomes a zero-sum
game. The multiplayer game can be thought of as a two player game
between a winning coalition and the remaining players, thus
becoming equivalent to a two-person game. vN and M emphasize that
how the players in a coalition will split up their winnings is
indeterminate, in general. Threats of players to leave a coalition
and join the other side, though, impose constraints on the range
of variability in the set of solution imputations. Notice vN and
M assume both that the players can discuss how to share winnings
beforehand and that agreements are enforcable by some external
institution.

John Forbes Nash extended the two-person zero-sum solution in
another manner. He defined the Nash equilibrium. In a Nash
equilibrium each player's mixed strategy yields that player the
maximum payoff, given that all other players are choosing their
optimal strategy by the same rule. A Nash equilibrium is not
necessarily unique for a given game. Nash also redefined vN and
M's approach to be applied to cooperative games. The Nash
equilibrium is said to apply to non-cooperative games.

Lots of questions arose from this work. How can the players
decide on which Nash equilibria to choose? Can this indeterminacy
be narrowed? Researchers have proposed a whole slew of
refinements and variations - subgame perfect equilibria, trembling
hand equilibria, etc. - the details of which I forget. This looks
like a different approach to economics than Walrasian General
Equilibrium theory. Are they related? Well, the proofs of
the existence of Arrow-Debreu equilibria grew out of the
mathematics of game theory. Furthermore, the equivalence
principle, which M. never accepted, states that game theoretic
solutions will approach Arrow-Debreu equilibria as the number
of players increases.

It seems many mathematicians and economists have decided that,
in practice, one can usually not set up the game and solve it.
Nevertheless, game theory provides a language to talk about such
situations. Discussions in this language have dissected
"rationality" until, perhaps, the concept has fallen apart. You
can view Survivor or the Weakest Link as laboratories to test game
theory. In fact, experimental economics grew up with game theory,
including experiments in which the players are computer code.

Mason Clark

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Feb 20, 2002, 2:29:29 AM2/20/02
to
On Mon, 18 Feb 2002 16:29:21 -0500, Robert Vienneau <rv...@see.sig.com> wrote:

Thank you very much, Robert. I was hoping you would help us.

Mason C

Christopher Auld

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Feb 19, 2002, 2:12:32 PM2/19/02
to
Robert Vienneau <rv...@see.sig.com> wrote:

An essay which could be titled "random things I know
about game theory, with some reference to John Nash."
Much of it, however, is better than Bob's usual fare.
But some glaring mistakes should be noted, most notably
and strangely:


> TABLE 1: A PRISONER'S DILEMMA
>
> PLAYER B
> STRATEGY Defect Cooperate
> Defect (-1, 2) (1/2, 1 )
> PLAYER A Cooperate (0, 1/2) (1, -1)

... this isn't a prisoners' dilemna (A's dominant strategy
is to cooperate, for one thing!) Here's a PD:

PLAYER B
STRATEGY Defect Cooperate

Defect (-1,-1) (3, -2)
PLAYER A Cooperate (-2, 3) (2, 2)

Regardless of what one's opponent is doing, "defect" is the
best play. Thus the players wind up with (-1,-1) rather than
the Pareto dominating outcome (2,2). (As an aside, notice
that the concept of "efficient" Bob has recently told us is
a useless notion restricted to neoclassical economics arises
here.) This is indeed the most important game in all of
game theory -- much of modern social science from evolutionary
psychology to industrial organization can be roughly captured
as "ah, it's all just a repeated PD." But it's a very poor
vehicle for discussing Nash equilibrium because both players
have dominant strategies.


>Suppose the payoffs, in each entry in the payoff matrix, summed over
>all players to zero. Then the game is the well-known zero sum
>game.

Bob then goes off for several paragraphs on zero sum games
and refers to Nash equilibrium as a solution concept for such
games. Zero-sum games rarely come up in economics and are
of little interest. A reason Nash's concept of equilibrium
is so important is that it applies to non-cooperative games
that are not zero sum.

Bob then obliquely refers to Nash's other major contribution
to game theory, the Nash Bargaining Solution. Nash proposed
an axiomatic solution to the bargaining problems, for instance,
bilateral monopoly. His solution depends deeply on the vNM
axiomatization of expected utility theory. But Bob has an
emotional and negative reaction to expected utility theory
and does not seem to want to admit that von Neumann had
anything to do with it, perhaps explaining the oversight in
this piece.


>refinements and variations - subgame perfect equilibria, trembling
>hand equilibria, etc. - the details of which I forget. This looks

[...]

>situations. Discussions in this language have dissected
>"rationality" until, perhaps, the concept has fallen apart.

Such pronouncements seem to make Bob happy, but it's worth
noting the context in which these discussions arise. In
dynamic games, particularly dynamic games with incomplete
information, the usual solution concepts based on strong,
technical definitions of "rational" can pose paradoxes.
We can wind up in situations where a player can make himself
better off by playing "irrationally," but then it seems odd
to call such behavior "irrational," which is the sense in
which "the concept has fallen apart" in such cases.

We need to discuss solution concepts for dynamic games to
make sense of this. Consider a famous game in which
a firm decides whether to enter a market which is currently
monopolized. If entry occurs, the monopolist can either
"fight" the entrant by charging low prices or he can
"cooperate" by colluding with the entrant. Without going
into the details of specifying numerical payoffs, in the
interesting case there are two Nash equilibria: the monpolist
fights and entry does not occur, or the monopolist colludes
and entry occurs. But suppose that we imagine what happens
if entry does occur: the monopolist will simply lose money
if he fights, so if entry occurs, he will collude. The
first Nash equilibrium then involves a threat which isn't
credible, and it's ruled out as an equilibrium by the
stronger concept "subgame perfect Nash equilibrium."
Notions of "rationality" for dynamic games incorporate such
ideas, and often require thinking about how players should
deal with uncertainty.

The most famous example of a game in which these notions of
"rational" can be argued to be paradoxical is called the
"centipede game." A quick google confirms that anyone
interested can find numerous discussions on the web, saving
me trying to represent the game tree in ASCII. The basic
problem is that that which keeps a "rational" player playing
the equilibrium is his idea of what happens outside of
equilibrium play, but "rational" players cannot consider
what happens when "rational" play doesn't occur. One
manner in which the paradox manifests itself mathematically
is that we can wind up in situations in which an agent is
supposed to Bayesian update beliefs after an event with
probability zero has occurred.

These puzzles with "rationality" in dynamic games are
interesting. However, contrary to Bob's ideas, they are
largely unrelated to the broader literaure on rational
choice theory. For that matter, they do not even imply
that strong notions of rationality are not useful in
thinking about dynamic games of incomplete information.

--
Chris Auld
Department of Economics
University of Calgary
au...@ucalgary.ca

Mason Clark

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Feb 20, 2002, 3:26:53 PM2/20/02
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On 19 Feb 2002 12:12:32 -0700, au...@acs.ucalgary.ca (Christopher Auld) wrote:

>Robert Vienneau <rv...@see.sig.com> wrote:
>
>An essay which could be titled "random things I know
>about game theory, with some reference to John Nash."

Chris, please be so kind as to give us a one-page
explanation of Nash's contribution, sans the ad-hominem that
makes your last post useless if not wholly unreadable.

Mason C

Christopher Auld

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Feb 19, 2002, 5:48:00 PM2/19/02
to
Mason Clark <mas...@ix.netcom.DELETEcom> wrote:

>Chris, please be so kind as to give us a one-page
>explanation of Nash's contribution, sans the ad-hominem that
>makes your last post useless if not wholly unreadable.

Mason, there is nothing in what I wrote which is
ad hominem (an ad hominem argument is an argument
against the man: My opinion that much of what Bob
wrote is off topic and/or mistaken is not ad hominem.)
And no, I will not write a one-page summary of Nash's
contributions to game theory. If you would like to
know more, you will have to actually spend the effort
required to learn some basic game theory. (Warning:
This may require opening economics textbooks.) I may
have been more inclined to attempt to write such a
one-page summary for folks without the required
background if the requester wasn't prone to ad hominem
content-free posts such as

>An asinine collection of questions. Any rational recipient would
>giggle at the attempted humor and hang up.

susupply

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Feb 19, 2002, 6:41:36 PM2/19/02
to

"Mason Clark" <mas...@ix.netcom.com> wrote in message
news:7h187ukd305120tf5...@4ax.com...

> Chris, please be so kind as to give us a one-page
> explanation of Nash's contribution, sans the ad-hominem that
> makes your last post useless if not wholly unreadable.

But Mason, you've already thanked Robert for helping you to understand
Nash's contributions, so why don't you favor us with a summary of what you
have learned from that source?

Patrick


Robert Vienneau

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Feb 19, 2002, 7:38:01 PM2/19/02
to
I made a mistake:

> The first
> entry in each ordered pair is the payoff to player A when A plays
> the strategy indicated by the row label and B plays the strategy
> indicated by the column label. The second entry shows the payoff
> to player B.
>
> TABLE 1: A PRISONER'S DILEMMA
>
> PLAYER B
> STRATEGY Defect Cooperate
> Defect (-1, 2) (1/2, 1 )
> PLAYER A Cooperate (0, 1/2) (1, -1)

Should be:

TABLE 1': A PRISONER'S DILEMMA

PLAYER B
STRATEGY Defect Cooperate

PLAYER A Defect (0, 1/2) (1, -1)
Cooperate (-1, 2) (1/2, 1)

Labels and the order of rows are irrelevant. Both tables show
the same game, a prisoner's dilemma. In fact, this seems to
have been the first prisoner's dilemma ever formulated.

It was first formulated to experimentally demonstrate people
don't choose Nash equilibria. (Mirowski 2002)

"...Apparently one of the earliest thorny issues prompted
by the collaboration (as opposed to von Neumann's lone
elaboration of mathematical concepts) was the attitude to
the neoclassical doctrine of value as individual 'utility'.
A 'logic of desire', a formalism 'mainly concerned with
quasi-psychological or even logistical concepts like
"decisions", "information", "plans"', and so forth,
would seem to be precisely what the neoclassicals thought
they had already advocated and brought to a fevered pitch
of perfection; but this presumption was what both members
of the duo rejected. I believe there subsisted a tension
between von Neumann and Morgenstern over the reasons that
each respectively thought 'utility' was untenable...; but
since Morgenstern deferred to the great mathematician in
all things, this is difficult to sort out.

In any event, it seems that Morgenstern finally convinced
von Neumann that they must proceed tactically by means of
the concillatory move of phrasing the payoffs in terms of
an entity called 'utility', but one that von Neumann would
demonstrate was cardinal - in other words, for all practical
purposes indistinguishable from money - so long as one
remained committed to applications of the expectation
operator of the probability calculus to combinations of
strategies and payoffs. It went without saying that the
one major contribution of the 1928 theory of games that
hinged on precisely this construct - the insistence upon
the intrinsically probabilistic character of play - had
to be retained in the refurbished research program. This,
therefore, is the meaning of the curiously inverted comment
in the final text that 'We have practically defined
numerical utility as being that thing for which the
calculus of mathematical expectation is appropriate'...
In the mind of Morgenstern, this constituted an attack on
the fractious discussion in the 1930s and 1940s of the
nature and significance of interdependence in neoclassical
demand theory...: 'In the essay more remarks are going
to be made about the measurability of utility. It turns out
that one can easily make genuine suppositions of
complimentarity (completely reasonable and possible
suppositions) by which the whole indifference curve analysis
becomes untenable. Instead of this the preferences of the
individual are partially ordered sets' (August 11, 1941,
OMDU). This became known subsequently as the axiomatization
of von Neumann-Morgenstern expected utility, the formal
derivation of which was added as an appendix to the second
edition of Theory of Games and Economic Behavior (TGEB)
in 1946..., although the outline of the proof was
constructed in 1942. (April 14, 1942, OMDU).

Because 'von Neumann-Morgenstern expected utility' was the
one concept in the book that many in the economics profession
latched onto with alacrity in the period immediately following
the publication of TGEB, it is important to try and gain
some perspective on its place in von Neumann's oeuvre. It
must be said that he had no objections to the idea there
was some sort of individual ordering of personal preference;
as we suggested earlier in the chapter, it resonated in a
low-key manner with his methodogically individualist
proclivities. Moreover, he also was moderately favorably
inclined toward the use of extrema in identifying rest
points over preferences; selfishness, as he said, was a law
of nature. Yet, arrayed against these motivations were
other, rather more compelling reasons NOT to accept utility
as any sort of reasonable characterization of psychology.

First, as we have noted, he regarded the mathematics of
utility as a pale and inadequate imitation of classical
mechanics, verging on obsolescence. He had repeatedly
hinted throughout his writings that entropy, and not
energy, held the key to a modern representation of the
processing of information. Second, the text of TGEB insists
that it will have no truck with the subjectivist theory of
probability, but will remain firmly committed to the
frequentist interpretation... This merely reiterated a
position that von Neumann advocated throughout his career
that probabilities were ontic, and not epistemic. Third,
the text explicitly wears its heart on its sleeve, in the
sense that the word 'utility' is treated as just a placeholder
for 'money', something transferrable, numerical, and
fungible in that everyone is presumed to want in unlimited
amounts. Because payoffs are effectively denominated in its
currency as part of the rules, and in magnitudes independent
of play, people are presumed to know what they are getting
as outcomes for each move and countermove before the pieces
hit the board; pace Morgenstern, that aspect is never
allowed to become a matter of interpretation. Whereas the
theory of games was indeed intended to make some stabs in
the direction of a logic of strategy, the theory of utility
was in no way regarded as a necessary or credible component
of that project. Fourth, there was the contemporary
'pragmatist' riposte that act 'as if' they had utility
functions, even though this was not a serious theory of
psychology; what is interesting about von Neumann is that he
was less and less inclined to make these sorts of arguments
as time went on. As we shall observe repeatedly in subsequent
chapters, the wizard of computation betrayed no inclination
to privilege the Turing Test or to simulate rational behavior
in humans; rather, his quest was for a formal theory of
rationality independent of human psychology. This distinction
only grew more dominant in phase three of his research
trajectory. Fifth, and most crucially, the final phase of
von Neumann's career, from 1943 until his death in 1957, was
heavily explicitly occupied with the study of the brain and
the formalization of rational calculation via the
instrumentatily of the computer. At no time in this period
did von Neumann return to 'utility' in order to complement,
illustrate, or inform those objectives. Utility theory
simply dropped from sight."
-- Philip Mirowski, Machine Dreams. CUP, 2002.

I agree with Mirowski's reading of the role of utility in
TGEB. I'm previously on record here in noting the
anti-neoclassical nature of vN and M. I've noted the
dearth of applications in this book long before reading
Mirowski on the subject. I've also always been modest
about any claims to fully understand game theory.

Poor Chris Auld.

Mason Clark

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Feb 19, 2002, 7:51:34 PM2/19/02
to

Patrick, Robert wrote a summary. Surely you don't require
a summary of the summary? Chris went to great length to
criticize Robert rather than offer his own explanation. I hoped
he could be induced to do better. No such luck, it seems.

Mason C

Christopher Auld

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Feb 19, 2002, 9:24:58 PM2/19/02
to
Mason Clark <mas...@ix.netcom.DELETEcom> wrote:

>Patrick, Robert wrote a summary. Surely you don't require
>a summary of the summary? Chris went to great length to
>criticize Robert rather than offer his own explanation.

Well, when you put it that way! Imagine criticizing
something written on Usenet! What's the world coming
to?

Tell you what, Mason. Deja says you've posted 2,120
times to this newsgroup. If you can show me one post
in all those in which you say something substantive
about economists which isn't derogatory, I'll write a
one page summary of John Nash's contributions to game
theory.

--

Christopher Auld

unread,
Feb 19, 2002, 11:24:18 PM2/19/02
to
Robert Vienneau <rv...@see.sig.com> wrote:

>It was first formulated to experimentally demonstrate people
>don't choose Nash equilibria. (Mirowski 2002)

This is an interesting contention. Perhaps Bob could
supply the relevant quote.


>I agree with Mirowski's reading of the role of utility in
>TGEB. I'm previously on record here in noting the
>anti-neoclassical nature of vN and M. I've noted the
>dearth of applications in this book long before reading
>Mirowski on the subject. I've also always been modest
>about any claims to fully understand game theory.
>
>Poor Chris Auld.

All right I'll bite: Exactly what point do you think
you're winning here, Bob? And could I ask you to please,
please read the Colander paper you so kindly brought
to our attention again? Please note, as usual, your
use of the word "neoclassical" in exactly the manner
he so carefully annihilates. Thanks.

Grinch

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Feb 20, 2002, 12:01:06 AM2/20/02
to
On 19 Feb 2002 19:24:58 -0700, au...@acs.ucalgary.ca (Christopher Auld)
wrote:

>Mason Clark <mas...@ix.netcom.DELETEcom> wrote:


>
>>Patrick, Robert wrote a summary. Surely you don't require
>>a summary of the summary? Chris went to great length to
>>criticize Robert rather than offer his own explanation.
>
>Well, when you put it that way! Imagine criticizing
>something written on Usenet! What's the world coming
>to?
>
>Tell you what, Mason. Deja says you've posted 2,120
>times to this newsgroup. If you can show me one post
>in all those in which you say something substantive
>about economists which isn't derogatory, I'll write a
>one page summary of John Nash's contributions to game
>theory.

That's a challenge I want to see taken up!

One out of 2,120 .... he *might* be able to do that, and I'd like to
see the summary.

c...@bluemouth.localdomain.net

unread,
Feb 20, 2002, 2:32:35 AM2/20/02
to
Grinch <oldn...@mindspring.com> writes:

> On 19 Feb 2002 19:24:58 -0700, au...@acs.ucalgary.ca (Christopher Auld)
> wrote:
>
> >Mason Clark <mas...@ix.netcom.DELETEcom> wrote:
> >

...<snip>...


> >Tell you what, Mason. Deja says you've posted 2,120
> >times to this newsgroup. If you can show me one post
> >in all those in which you say something substantive
> >about economists which isn't derogatory, I'll write a
> >one page summary of John Nash's contributions to game
> >theory.
>
> That's a challenge I want to see taken up!
>
> One out of 2,120 .... he *might* be able to do that, and I'd like to
> see the summary.

Didn't Mason post something one time about how you give a particular
group an economic boost by giving them a sort of monopoly or advantage
in some line of work and Grinch said Mason was exactly right and gave the
example of Native Americans being allowed to have gambling on their
reservations or something like that?

--
Replace ragwind.localdomain with rahul for a working email address

susupply

unread,
Feb 20, 2002, 9:35:24 AM2/20/02
to

"Mason Clark" <mas...@ix.netcom.com> wrote in message
news:8ns57uggloa5k30ai...@4ax.com...

> >But Mason, you've already thanked Robert for helping you to understand
> >Nash's contributions, so why don't you favor us with a summary of what
you
> >have learned from that source?
> >
> >Patrick
> >
> Patrick, Robert wrote a summary. Surely you don't require
> a summary of the summary? Chris went to great length to
> criticize Robert rather than offer his own explanation. I hoped
> he could be induced to do better. No such luck, it seems.
>
> Mason C

Mason, I hoped you could be induced to do better. No such luck, it seems.

Patrick


Robert Vienneau

unread,
Feb 20, 2002, 3:08:29 PM2/20/02
to
In article <a4v8di$4k...@acs1.acs.ucalgary.ca>, au...@acs.ucalgary.ca
(Christopher Auld) wrote:

> Robert Vienneau <rv...@see.sig.com> wrote:

> >It was first formulated to experimentally demonstrate people
> >don't choose Nash equilibria. (Mirowski 2002)

> This is an interesting contention. Perhaps Bob could
> supply the relevant quote.

Perhaps Bob will, whomever he may be.

Mason Clark

unread,
Feb 20, 2002, 3:11:16 PM2/20/02
to
(I can't tell who typed what in these evolving threads, so)

>> >Tell you what, Mason. Deja says you've posted 2,120
>> >times to this newsgroup. If you can show me one post
>> >in all those in which you say something substantive
>> >about economists which isn't derogatory, I'll write a
>> >one page summary of John Nash's contributions to game
>> >theory.

Oh, must have been Chris Auld.


>>
>> That's a challenge I want to see taken up!

Me too. But why the qualifier, "substantive"? An out?

If my web page quotes Vickrey, does that count?
If I defended James Galbraith from calumny, does that count?
If I recommended Robert Eisner and Robert Heilbroner, does that count?
If I recommended Steve Keen's book, "Debunking Economics" does that count?
Or were those not "substantive"?
Or, in your (whose?) mind do they not qualify as "economists"?
---------------------------------------------------
Mason A. Clark
http://masonc.home.netcom.com
political-social-psychological Economics
Ronald Reagan's amazing insight in economics
Complete book: The Healing Wisdom of Dr.P.P.Quimby
Complete book: Get Rich in Small Business
---------------------------------------------------
Best advise: do NOT read economics textbooks!
They will poison your mind with descriptions of
a world that does not exist.
-------I am not a Republican------

Christopher Auld

unread,
Feb 20, 2002, 4:04:17 PM2/20/02
to
Mason Clark <mas...@ix.netcom.DELETEcom> wrote:

>>> >Tell you what, Mason. Deja says you've posted 2,120
>>> >times to this newsgroup. If you can show me one post
>>> >in all those in which you say something substantive
>>> >about economists which isn't derogatory, I'll write a
>>> >one page summary of John Nash's contributions to game
>>> >theory.

>If my web page quotes Vickrey, does that count?


>If I defended James Galbraith from calumny, does that count?
>If I recommended Robert Eisner and Robert Heilbroner, does that count?

No, no, and no.

>If I recommended Steve Keen's book, "Debunking Economics" does that count?

Good one!


>Or, in your (whose?) mind do they not qualify as "economists"?

I meant a comment about economists in general that isn't
negative (you know, like the opposite of what appears in
half of the thousands of posts you've so kindly shared
with the group). A few quotes from specific economists
don't count, particularly when they appear to be mostly
negative comments about other economists. Guess that I
won't have to waste my time writing that summary.

Christopher Auld

unread,
Feb 20, 2002, 4:12:48 PM2/20/02
to
Robert Vienneau <rv...@see.sig.com> wrote:
>(Christopher Auld) wrote:

>> >It was first formulated to experimentally demonstrate people
>> >don't choose Nash equilibria. (Mirowski 2002)
>
>> This is an interesting contention. Perhaps Bob could
>> supply the relevant quote.
>
>Perhaps Bob will, whomever he may be.

Oh my! You mean I'm referring to Mr. Vienneau by
an inappropriate title? How rude. It could only
be ruder if I had been specifically told that the
title was incorrect and asked politely to use the
correct one. Imagine how childish it would be to
refuse such a request.

Now, this would seem to be a diversion from
supplying the relevant quote from Mirowski. I
rather suspect that `the prisoners' dilemna was
invented to show people don't play Nash equilibria'
is a misinterpretation.

Mason Clark

unread,
Feb 20, 2002, 8:30:30 PM2/20/02
to
On 20 Feb 2002 14:04:17 -0700, au...@acs.ucalgary.ca (Christopher Auld) wrote:
>
>I meant a comment about economists in general that isn't
>negative

Sorry, I'm not capable of such cupidity. *in general*

Mason C

Steve Conover

unread,
Feb 20, 2002, 10:56:46 PM2/20/02
to
au...@acs.ucalgary.ca (Christopher Auld) wrote:

>Mason Clark <mas...@ix.netcom.DELETEcom> wrote:
>
>>If my web page quotes Vickrey, does that count?
>>If I defended James Galbraith from calumny, does that count?
>>If I recommended Robert Eisner and Robert Heilbroner, does that count?
>
>No, no, and no.

> [snip]


>>Or, in your (whose?) mind do they not qualify as "economists"?
>
>I meant a comment about economists in general that isn't
>negative (you know, like the opposite of what appears in
>half of the thousands of posts you've so kindly shared
>with the group). A few quotes from specific economists
>don't count, particularly when they appear to be mostly
>negative comments about other economists. Guess that I
>won't have to waste my time writing that summary.

Long ago, most of us shot an arrow into the wall. Since then, we
have separated into two groups:

1. Those who have spent their time carefully painting a bright
red bullseye around the spot where the arrow went in.

2. Those who have spent their time assessing their accuracy, and
when appropriate, removing the arrow and taking another shot.

Those in category 1 are easily identifiable. Whom they
consistently defend (those with similar political views), and
whom they don't (anyone who espouses an opposing political view
-- frequently other category 1 members), is a good clue.

These guidelines have helped me manage my killfile list. FWIW.

--Steve

David Lloyd-Jones

unread,
Feb 21, 2002, 2:31:01 AM2/21/02
to

Bob Vienneau wrote:
>
> Perhaps Bob will, whomever he may be.
>


"Whomever"??!

-dlj.


David Lloyd-Jones

unread,
Feb 21, 2002, 2:38:41 AM2/21/02
to
It seemed to me that there was one distortion in Bob's -- or Robert's, or am
I supposed to think of him as an RV? -- original post, and curiously it's
one that Chris has acquiesced in. RV posted as though Von Neuman and
Morgenstern had been economists right back into the 1930's, and theory of
games had been an accepted part of economics for almost as long.

This is just false. Von Neuman and Morgenstern were certainly major league
public intellectuals (a term that has only become fashionable in the last 18
months or so), and dealing with economics -- or political economy as it was
called in their day -- was certainly part of their role as they saw it
themselves. They were not, however, taken seriously by soi disant economists
as economists.

Theory of games is with great justice dated from the amazing RAND
Corporation class of 1943~45, of which I don't think (somebody correct me if
I'm wrong) either Von Neuman or Morgenstern were members. Kenneth Arrow was
one of the stars, but I don't think he became an economist until a good deal
later. Anatol Rapoport was another, and to this day I think he's entitled to
both a Nobel Peace Prize (for "Debates, Games and Negotiations, [no doubt
I've mixed up the order]" which I think got us through the cold war without
nuking each other) and in economics for every other damn thing he's done.
Still, he is not to this day accepted as a mainstream economist. (I imagine
Axelrod will eventually collect that particular Nobel, simply because he's
young enough to probably be the last one standing.)

Fogel's "Games Theory and Economics" was as far as I know the first text to
be taken seriously as economics by academic economists, i.e. the people who
teach economics, as opposed to the people who build H-bombs or commune with
Khruschev's son-in-law in Vienna. (These latter two were the authors of
"TGEB," as "Bob" so familiar calls it.) Google dates Fogel's book as 1991,
though I think of it as being 1987. Perhaps I read it in
freebie-for-the-text-committee form.

Either way, that's a little bit more recent than Vienneau's post painted all
these issues as being. To give him some credit, perhaps he has been taken in
by the universal temptation of people who come late to a field to backdate
their memories.

-dlj.

Robert Vienneau

unread,
Feb 21, 2002, 5:46:01 AM2/21/02
to
In article <a5285a$40rgf$1...@ID-99058.news.dfncis.de>, "David
Lloyd-Jones" <dav...@sympatico.ca> wrote:

> It seemed to me that there was one distortion in Bob's -- or Robert's, or
> am
> I supposed to think of him as an RV? -- original post, and curiously it's
> one that Chris has acquiesced in. RV posted as though Von Neuman and
> Morgenstern had been economists right back into the 1930's, and theory of
> games had been an accepted part of economics for almost as long.

Davy is making false statements. I never discussed the lack of
acceptance by economists of game theory or not.

Von Neumann and John Nash were mathematicians. Game theory, until
the late 1970s was dealt with by mathematicians at Princeton,
interdisciplinary groups at RAND, the "peacenik's RAND" at the
University of Michigan, etc. I myself was formally taught two person
zero sum games as an application of Linear Programming. This was in
the early 1980s in an Operations Research class situated in a
math department.

> This is just false. Von Neuman and Morgenstern were certainly major
> league

> public intellectuals..., and dealing with economics -- or political


> economy as it was
> called in their day -- was certainly part of their role as they saw it
> themselves.

Von Neumann was more of a defense intellectual. Morgenstern
was not nearly as broad in his abilities. Morgenstern was an
economist. Marshall pushed the name change from "political
economy" to "economics". This was before vN and M's day.

> They were not, however, taken seriously by soi disant
> economists as economists.

Davy deals with major themes of Mirowski (2002) throughout this
post, but with annoying misstatements. Mirowski's theme is how
neoclassical economists resisted and accomodated Operations
Research, Information Theory, Artificial Intelligence, Systems
Analysis, and C3I. In other words, his book is about some origins
of contemporary mainstream economics in America. The interaction
of Cowles and RAND is an important element in this story.

> Theory of games is with great justice dated from the amazing RAND
> Corporation class of 1943~45, of which I don't think (somebody correct me
> if
> I'm wrong) either Von Neuman or Morgenstern were members.

The first edition of vN and M's Theory of Games and Economic Behavior
is 1944. They were in Princeton at the time.

"John Williams, and implicitly John von Neumann, had stocked the
Military Evaluation Section at RAND with game theorists in order
to give game theory a run for its money, and that is just what
happened. Olaf Helmer convened a Conference on the Applications
of Game Theory to Tactics ar Chicago in March 1949; already by
February 1949 Helmer could provide Oskar Morgenstern with twenty
seven separate research memorando on game theory written at
RAND about which he had been previously unaware."
-- Mirowski (2002)

Von Neumann gave lectures on game theory to RAND.

By the early 1960s, the analysts at RAND had rejected game
theory as not being particularly useful in solving practical
problems.

> Kenneth Arrow
> was
> one of the stars, but I don't think he became an economist until a good
> deal
> later.

Arrow's PhD from Columbia (1951) is in economics. He studied under
Hotelling, for instance. He was a research associate for the Cowles
Commission from 1947 on. Arrow was and is an economist.

I think Arrow's RAND research was in the 1950s - anyway, later than 1945.

> Anatol Rapoport was another, and to this day I think he's entitled
> to
> both a Nobel Peace Prize (for "Debates, Games and Negotiations, [no doubt
> I've mixed up the order]" which I think got us through the cold war
> without
> nuking each other) and in economics for every other damn thing he's done.
> Still, he is not to this day accepted as a mainstream economist. (I
> imagine
> Axelrod will eventually collect that particular Nobel, simply because
> he's
> young enough to probably be the last one standing.)

Anatol Rapoport was originally a mathematical biologist. His PhD,
from Chicago in 1941, is in mathematics. He was an assistant
professor of mathematical biology. He was at Michigan from 1955
to 1969, and he worked with Kenneth Boulding.

> Fogel's "Games Theory and Economics" was as far as I know the first text
> to
> be taken seriously as economics by academic economists, i.e. the people
> who
> teach economics, as opposed to the people who build H-bombs or commune
> with
> Khruschev's son-in-law in Vienna. (These latter two were the authors of
> "TGEB," as "Bob" so familiar calls it.)

It's the above sort of statements that makes me wonder whether Davy
is trolling.

Who was the audience for Luce and Raiffa's Games and Decisions (1957)?

Christopher Auld

unread,
Feb 21, 2002, 12:12:48 PM2/21/02
to
David Lloyd-Jones <dav...@sympatico.ca> wrote:

>This is just false. Von Neuman and Morgenstern were certainly major league
>public intellectuals (a term that has only become fashionable in the last 18
>months or so), and dealing with economics -- or political economy as it was
>called in their day -- was certainly part of their role as they saw it
>themselves. They were not, however, taken seriously by soi disant economists
>as economists.

David, what is your source for this? von Neumann was a
mathematician, but Morgenstern was an economist. I am
not familiar with any of his work before TGEB, but he
was respected enough to land a position at Princeton
after the Nazis tossed him out.


>Fogel's "Games Theory and Economics" was as far as I know the first text to
>be taken seriously as economics by academic economists, i.e. the people who
>teach economics, as opposed to the people who build H-bombs or commune with
>Khruschev's son-in-law in Vienna. (These latter two were the authors of
>"TGEB," as "Bob" so familiar calls it.) Google dates Fogel's book as 1991,
>though I think of it as being 1987. Perhaps I read it in
>freebie-for-the-text-committee form.

I'm not sure I understand the claim here, so to be clear: The
first text on game theory "to be taken seriously by academic
economists" was published in 1987? If that is indeed the
claim, it's very, very mistaken.

Christopher Auld

unread,
Feb 21, 2002, 12:24:53 PM2/21/02
to
Robert Vienneau <rv...@see.sig.com> wrote:
>"David Lloyd-Jones" <dav...@sympatico.ca> wrote:

>Von Neumann and John Nash were mathematicians. Game theory, until
>the late 1970s was dealt with by mathematicians at Princeton,
>interdisciplinary groups at RAND, the "peacenik's RAND" at the
>University of Michigan, etc.

Game theory has been a major component of economics, biology,
and mathematics for many decades. It was "dealt with" at
many places.


>The first edition of vN and M's Theory of Games and Economic Behavior
>is 1944. They were in Princeton at the time.

Further, the first manuscript was 1941. Although it was
called Theory of Games and Rational Behavior at that time.


>Who was the audience for Luce and Raiffa's Games and Decisions (1957)?

Bob and I agree on something. Everyone, remain calm
and move in an orderly fashion towards the bomb shelters.

Christopher Auld

unread,
Feb 21, 2002, 2:50:37 PM2/21/02
to

>"Whomever"??!

"'Whom are you?' said he, for he had been to night school."

-- George Ade

David Lloyd-Jones

unread,
Feb 21, 2002, 10:33:13 PM2/21/02
to

"Robert Vienneau" <rv...@see.sig.com> just makes stuff up out of thin air.

> Von Neumann was more of a defense intellectual.

What's your theory, that defense is not a public concern?

> Morgenstern
> was not nearly as broad in his abilities.

Morgenstern was the main initiator on the American side of the establishment
of the International Institute for Systems Analysis in Vienna -- one of the
cold war's most important hives of undercover detente. This is purely
political work on Morgenstern's side -- perhaps as his name would suggest,
playing Venus to Von Neuman's Mars.

> Morgenstern was an
> economist. Marshall pushed the name change from "political
> economy" to "economics". This was before vN and M's day.

What's you're theory Bobby, that "poitical economy" vanished from people's
vocabulary in the 19th century? Wrong. the victory of the etiolated notion
"economics" is purely post WWII.

> > They were not, however, taken seriously by soi disant
> > economists as economists.
>
> Davy deals with major themes of Mirowski (2002) throughout this
> post, but with annoying misstatements. Mirowski's theme is how
> neoclassical economists resisted and accomodated Operations
> Research, Information Theory, Artificial Intelligence, Systems
> Analysis, and C3I. In other words, his book is about some origins
> of contemporary mainstream economics in America. The interaction
> of Cowles and RAND is an important element in this story.

I was not dealing with Mirowski at all, but with my own experiences with a
number of these people.

> > Theory of games is with great justice dated from the amazing RAND
> > Corporation class of 1943~45, of which I don't think (somebody correct
me
> > if
> > I'm wrong) either Von Neuman or Morgenstern were members.
>
> The first edition of vN and M's Theory of Games and Economic Behavior
> is 1944. They were in Princeton at the time.

My point exactly. Thank you for the confirmation.

> "John Williams, and implicitly John von Neumann, had stocked the
> Military Evaluation Section at RAND with game theorists in order
> to give game theory a run for its money, and that is just what
> happened. Olaf Helmer convened a Conference on the Applications
> of Game Theory to Tactics ar Chicago in March 1949; already by
> February 1949 Helmer could provide Oskar Morgenstern with twenty
> seven separate research memorando on game theory written at
> RAND about which he had been previously unaware."
> -- Mirowski (2002)
>
> Von Neumann gave lectures on game theory to RAND.
>
> By the early 1960s, the analysts at RAND had rejected game
> theory as not being particularly useful in solving practical
> problems.
>
> > Kenneth Arrow
> > was
> > one of the stars, but I don't think he became an economist until a good
> > deal
> > later.
>
> Arrow's PhD from Columbia (1951) is in economics. He studied under
> Hotelling, for instance. He was a research associate for the Cowles
> Commission from 1947 on. Arrow was and is an economist.

Thank you for confirming that Arrow was not yet an economist when he wa at
RAND during the War.

> I think Arrow's RAND research was in the 1950s - anyway, later than 1945.
>
> > Anatol Rapoport was another, and to this day I think he's entitled
> > to
> > both a Nobel Peace Prize (for "Debates, Games and Negotiations, [no
doubt
> > I've mixed up the order]" which I think got us through the cold war
> > without
> > nuking each other) and in economics for every other damn thing he's
done.
> > Still, he is not to this day accepted as a mainstream economist. (I
> > imagine
> > Axelrod will eventually collect that particular Nobel, simply because
> > he's
> > young enough to probably be the last one standing.)
>
> Anatol Rapoport was originally a mathematical biologist.

Horseshit. Rapoport invented mathematical biology and mathematical
psychology, neither of them great successes, while he was at RAND -- where
he was a specialist in air force logistics.

> His PhD,
> from Chicago in 1941, is in mathematics. He was an assistant
> professor of mathematical biology. He was at Michigan from 1955
> to 1969, and he worked with Kenneth Boulding.
>
> > Fogel's "Games Theory and Economics" was as far as I know the first text
> > to
> > be taken seriously as economics by academic economists, i.e. the people
> > who
> > teach economics, as opposed to the people who build H-bombs or commune
> > with
> > Khruschev's son-in-law in Vienna. (These latter two were the authors of
> > "TGEB," as "Bob" so familiar calls it.)
>
> It's the above sort of statements that makes me wonder whether Davy
> is trolling.
>
> Who was the audience for Luce and Raiffa's Games and Decisions (1957)?

Not very many economics, Bobby.

-dlj.


Lewis Mammel

unread,
Feb 22, 2002, 12:55:35 AM2/22/02
to

Remember when The New Yorker used to have little bloopers and
quips from the news as column footers? One I remember was of
a politician who said he would support the candidate "whomever
it may be." When asked if he himself would run he replied,
"You'll notice I said 'whomever'." - quipped The New Yorker,
"We tried to overlook it."

Lew Mammel, Jr.

Lewis Mammel

unread,
Feb 22, 2002, 1:11:30 AM2/22/02
to

Christopher Auld wrote:

> Mason, there is nothing in what I wrote which is
> ad hominem (an ad hominem argument is an argument
> against the man: My opinion that much of what Bob
> wrote is off topic and/or mistaken is not ad hominem.)

But "against the man" would be "anti hominem" wouldn't it?
I know it's a lost cause, but since you made such a point
of it, I'll go once more into the breech.

"ad hominem" means "to the man" which means, or meant, an
appeal to the emotions or prejudices of the addressee of
an argument, e.g. "Do you sincerely want to be rich?" or
"Have you no compassion for the poor?"

The concept doesn't require a format where the arguer has
an opponent, as in a debate. If this is the case, though,
an obvious ad hominem appeal to the audience of the
debate is "don't believe my opponent, he's an idiot."
and this apparently devolves to "you're an idiot" in a
direct argument, which is misunderstood as "against
the man" or "ad hominem" (sic)

Lew Mammel, Jr.

Mason Clark

unread,
Feb 22, 2002, 2:31:37 AM2/22/02
to

I wouldn't want to bloviate about this, but maybe you're
both right:

ad ho·mi·nem (ad hom_uh nuhm, -nem•) adj.
1. appealing to one's prejudice, emotions, or special interests
rather than to one's intellect or reason.
2. attacking an opponent's character rather than answering an
argument.
adv.
3. in an ad hominem manner.
[< L: lit., to the man]

Copy-and-paste from my computer's Webster.

Mason

David Lloyd-Jones

unread,
Feb 21, 2002, 10:48:04 PM2/21/02
to

"Christopher Auld" <au...@acs.ucalgary.ca> wrote in message
news:a539qg$4k...@acs1.acs.ucalgary.ca...

> David Lloyd-Jones <dav...@sympatico.ca> wrote:
>
> >This is just false. Von Neuman and Morgenstern were certainly major
league
> >public intellectuals (a term that has only become fashionable in the last
18
> >months or so), and dealing with economics -- or political economy as it
was
> >called in their day -- was certainly part of their role as they saw it
> >themselves. They were not, however, taken seriously by soi disant
economists
> >as economists.
>
> David, what is your source for this? von Neumann was a
> mathematician, but Morgenstern was an economist. I am
> not familiar with any of his work before TGEB, but he
> was respected enough to land a position at Princeton
> after the Nazis tossed him out.

Chris,

I'm not sure what you mean by "What is my source?" It seems to me simply
obvious by inspection. Or does you definition of "as an economist" include
the necessity of having a doctorate in economics and being on an economics
faculty?

> >Fogel's "Games Theory and Economics" was as far as I know the first text
to
> >be taken seriously as economics by academic economists, i.e. the people
who
> >teach economics, as opposed to the people who build H-bombs or commune
with
> >Khruschev's son-in-law in Vienna. (These latter two were the authors of
> >"TGEB," as "Bob" so familiar calls it.) Google dates Fogel's book as
1991,
> >though I think of it as being 1987. Perhaps I read it in
> >freebie-for-the-text-committee form.
>
> I'm not sure I understand the claim here, so to be clear: The
> first text on game theory "to be taken seriously by academic
> economists" was published in 1987? If that is indeed the
> claim, it's very, very mistaken.

No, it was published in 1991. That is indeed the claim, and it rests on
converstaions with Rapoport and Boulding, and on the brick wall I ran into
as the elected student rep on the Economics Faculty Curriculum Committee at
UofT in the late '80's.

Economists today tend to backdate their memories, just as, say,
environmentalists are always magically remembering that they were the first
to make Lomborg's criticisms of environmentalism, and so forth. The fact
remains, however, that the few games-theoretical treatments of economics
around before about 1990 were curiosities and niche occupations. Mainstream
academic economics ignored them.

Today I suppose you can say that microeconomics is simply a branch of game
theory. This, I would guess, is what microeconomists of only 15 years ago
feared. Oddly, I think one might define economics not as the dreary
profession but as the fear-ridden one. Just as microeconomists feared
turning into games theoreticians, so the inane mathematicisation of
macroeconomics is dictated for the most part by macroeconomists' fear of
waking up as sociologists.

Cheers,

-dlj.


David Lloyd-Jones

unread,
Feb 21, 2002, 10:49:35 PM2/21/02
to

"Christopher Auld" <au...@acs.ucalgary.ca> wrote

>
> Game theory has been a major component of economics, biology,
> and mathematics for many decades. It was "dealt with" at
> many places.

This is not just true, it's obvious. My point is that until about 1990
academic economists almost universally tried to pretend otherwise.

-dlj.


Christopher Auld

unread,
Feb 22, 2002, 11:11:52 AM2/22/02
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Lewis Mammel <l.ma...@worldnet.att.net> wrote:

>The concept doesn't require a format where the arguer has
>an opponent, as in a debate. If this is the case, though,
>an obvious ad hominem appeal to the audience of the
>debate is "don't believe my opponent, he's an idiot."

Yes. Now please quote me calling Bob an "idiot"
or similar.

Christopher Auld

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Feb 22, 2002, 12:20:50 PM2/22/02
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David Lloyd-Jones <dav...@sympatico.ca> wrote:

>I'm not sure what you mean by "What is my source?" It seems to me simply
>obvious by inspection.

Inspection of what?


> Or does you definition of "as an economist" include
>the necessity of having a doctorate in economics and being on an
>economics faculty?

I don't know what Morgenstern's doctorate is in -- is it
not economics? Was he not in the economics dep't at
Princeton?

I don't actually think either of these conditions is
necessary to be an "economist," although for obvious
reasons most "economists" will satisfy them. However,
I think someone on this group just claimed Ken Arrow
wasn't an economist during WWII because he hadn't
yet completed his doctoral dissertation in economics
at that time.


>> first text on game theory "to be taken seriously by academic
>> economists" was published in 1987? If that is indeed the
>> claim, it's very, very mistaken.

>No, it was published in 1991. That is indeed the claim, and it rests on
>converstaions with Rapoport and Boulding, and on the brick wall I ran into
>as the elected student rep on the Economics Faculty Curriculum Committee at
>UofT in the late '80's.

David, I cannot emphasize enough how mistaken you are. I
think you must have misinterpreted Rapoport et al and
misunderstood the nature of the "brick wall." By the
late eighties game theory had all but entirely taken
over industrial organization and was a central tool
in many other fields, perhaps most notably labor
economics. Signalling, mechanism design, implementability,
information economics, auction theory, principal/agent
models, and many other critical ideas in modern economics
were "taken seriously by academic economists" long before
1990. I am sure Matthewson, Gallini, Winter, Pitchik,
Coyte, Ware and likely many other economists I forgot
or don't know who were at Toronto at roughly this time
would be equally surprised by the claim that their work
wasn't taken seriously.

I am also old enough, at the ripe old age of 32, to be
able to refute the claim from personal experience. My
first exposure to game theory was in 1987, as a
freshman, in my first intro to economics course (niche
ideas not taken seriously tend not to be discussed in
such courses). The first course I took on game theory
specifically was in 1989. There was a shortage of neither
game theory textbooks nor applications in many fields at
this time. Incidentally, I have never even heard of the
Fogel textbook that is alleged to have been the first text
on game theory ever taken seriously by economists.


>Today I suppose you can say that microeconomics is simply a branch of game
>theory.

And this would be overstatement in the other direction.


> This, I would guess, is what microeconomists of only 15 years ago
>feared. Oddly, I think one might define economics not as the dreary
>profession but as the fear-ridden one. Just as microeconomists feared
>turning into games theoreticians, so the inane mathematicisation of
>macroeconomics is dictated for the most part by macroeconomists' fear of
>waking up as sociologists.

David, you have some very funny ideas about what academic
economists think. Well, this is sci.econ after all....

David Lloyd-Jones

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Feb 22, 2002, 7:32:36 PM2/22/02
to

"Christopher Auld" <au...@acs.ucalgary.ca> wrote

>
> David, you have some very funny ideas about what academic
> economists think. Well, this is sci.econ after all....
>

Chris,

Assuming that by "funny" you mean odd, I would simply counter that not being
a working economist, I am not forced to bow down to the adacemic Baals.

That you were exposed to game theory in an undergraduate introductory course
in game theory simply shows you went to one of the world's better
universities, which indeed you did, and were therefore at the front of the
wave. If you like I'll move my date for game theory being accepted into
economics as other than a niche item back to 1985.

The fact remains that economics departments in many places were fighting
game theory right up to 1991, and the victory has only become complete in
the 1990's.

Morgenstern, Von Neuman, RAND and so on were extremely rarified curiosities
in 1945 when they were at the peak of their powers, and were on other
planets in the persepctive of all economics departments. (I have the
complete Harvard economics syllabus for 1945 somewhere, and have read it
repeatedly. This one can do in a couple of hours, and there is not a smidgen
of game theory in it -- despite Harvard having spent the war years in bed
with the Office of Naval Research and ONI, Sister Chapels, if not Mother
Church, of game theory.)

Rapoport has never been recognised as an economist, neither at Toronto nor
at Michigan, and this despite the fact that his, and Poundstone's,
Prisoners' Dilemma -- can't anybody get the plural possessive apostrophe in
the right place? -- is probably one of the dozen most major pillars of
modern economics. Boulding was an economist to perhaps a third of "the
profession," but only because he wrote a good deal of policy work that was
inescapably economics. To the majority of the profession he was an outside
agitator. In 1943~45 when Arrow was at RAND, he not only did not have a
doctorate in economics; he was not working on anything which was reconised
by any economics department as economics at the time.... if only because all
ten people who could have taught it were out in Santa Monica with him... :-)

Best wishes,

-dlj.


Robert Vienneau

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Feb 22, 2002, 9:58:27 PM2/22/02
to
In article <a54enl$4eaut$2...@ID-99058.news.dfncis.de>, "David
Lloyd-Jones" <dav...@sympatico.ca> wrote:

> "Robert Vienneau" <rv...@see.sig.com> [ silliness deleted ]:



> > Von Neumann was more of a defense intellectual.

> What's your theory, that defense is not a public concern?

My exemplar of a public intellectual tends to be more like
a member of the Partisan Review crowd, a humanist. Somebody
whose worldly activities came to be participating in mostly
secret defense committees, based on technical expertise,
deviates from that image.



> > Morgenstern
> > was not nearly as broad in his abilities.

> Morgenstern was the main initiator on the American side of the
> establishment
> of the International Institute for Systems Analysis in Vienna -- one of
> the
> cold war's most important hives of undercover detente. This is purely
> political work on Morgenstern's side -- perhaps as his name would
> suggest,
> playing Venus to Von Neuman's Mars.

The cold war, economics, and game theory don't come close
to exhausting von Neumann's impact. I don't think Morgenstern ever
did anything on quantum mechanics or mathematical logic, for
example.



> > Morgenstern was an
> > economist. Marshall pushed the name change from "political
> > economy" to "economics". This was before vN and M's day.

> What's you're theory Bobby, that "poitical economy" vanished from
> people's
> vocabulary in the 19th century? Wrong. the victory of the etiolated
> notion
> "economics" is purely post WWII.

It must make Davy happy to say strawpersons are mistaken. vN
and M were not contrasting their notions with American
Institutionalism, for example.

> > > They were not, however, taken seriously by soi disant
> > > economists as economists.

> > Davy deals with major themes of Mirowski (2002) throughout this
> > post, but with annoying misstatements. Mirowski's theme is how
> > neoclassical economists resisted and accomodated Operations
> > Research, Information Theory, Artificial Intelligence, Systems
> > Analysis, and C3I. In other words, his book is about some origins
> > of contemporary mainstream economics in America. The interaction
> > of Cowles and RAND is an important element in this story.

> I was not dealing with Mirowski at all, but with my own experiences with
> a number of these people.

Do I say that Davy was dealing with Mirowski's book? No, I do
not. I say Davy was dealing with Mirowski's themes, e.g., the
resistance of economists to OR. Does Davy contradict me by saying
that he was dealing with his own experiences? No, he does not.

I'm glad to see that we are agreed that vN and M created game theory
in the work leading up to their book (aside from vN's previous work
in the 1920s with a different community) and that vN stocked RAND
with researchers to explore the subject. vN gave lectures to
RAND on game theory in 1945.

> > Who was the audience for Luce and Raiffa's Games and Decisions (1957)?

> Not very many economics...

My question is a question, not a rhetorical statement.

The idea that economists mostly rejected game theory throughout the
1950s, 1960s, and much of the 1970s is not novel to me. Nor to
Mirowski. Nor do I reject this idea.

David Lloyd-Jones

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Feb 22, 2002, 11:38:13 PM2/22/02
to
"Robert Vienneau" <rv...@see.sig.com> wrote

> Lloyd-Jones" <dav...@sympatico.ca> wrote:
> > What's your theory, that defense is not a public concern?
> My exemplar of a public intellectual tends to be more like
> a member of the Partisan Review crowd, a humanist. Somebody
> whose worldly activities came to be participating in mostly
> secret defense committees, based on technical expertise,
> deviates from that image.

Bob,

Given that most of the Partisan Review crowd were on the OSS and CIA
payrolls -- generally with paycheques signed by my friend E.J. "Ed"
Applewhite -- over the years in question, I have some trouble with your
distinction.

-dlj.


Paul Walker

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Feb 23, 2002, 12:50:42 AM2/23/02
to
"David Lloyd-Jones" <dav...@sympatico.ca> wrote in
news:a56p7c$50pcu$1...@ID-99058.news.dfncis.de:


> "Christopher Auld" <au...@acs.ucalgary.ca> wrote

>> David, you have some very funny ideas about what academic
>> economists think. Well, this is sci.econ after all....


> Chris,

> Assuming that by "funny" you mean odd, I would simply counter that
> not being a working economist, I am not forced to bow down to the
> adacemic Baals.

> That you were exposed to game theory in an undergraduate introductory
> course in game theory simply shows you went to one of the world's
> better universities, which indeed you did, and were therefore at the
> front of the wave. If you like I'll move my date for game theory
> being accepted into economics as other than a niche item back to
> 1985.

> The fact remains that economics departments in many places were
> fighting game theory right up to 1991, and the victory has only
> become complete in the 1990's.

Even we here in little old New Zealand have been teaching GT since the
early to mid 80s.

But GT has been part of econ and other areas basically from the start.
One of the earliest applications of game theory to political science is
L. S. Shapley and M. Shubik with their 1954 paper "A Method for
Evaluating the Distribution of Power in a Committee System". They use
the Shapley value to determine the power of the members of the UN
Security Council. One of the first applications of game theory to
philosophy is R. B. Braithwaite's 1955 book "Theory of Games as a Tool
for the Moral Philosopher". The relationship between Edgeworth's idea of
the contract curve and the core was pointed out in 1959 by Martin Shubik
in his paper "Edgeworth Market Games". Shubik also published his book
"Strategy and Market Structure: Competition, Oligopoly, and the Theory
of Games" in 1959. This was one of the first books to take an explicitly
non-cooperative game theoretic approach to modelling oligopoly. It also
contains an early statement of the Folk Theorem.

In 1961 the first explicit application to evolutionary biology was made
by R. C. Lewontin in the paper "Evolution and the Theory of Games". One
of the first applications of game theory to cost allocation is Martin
Shubik's 1962 paper "Incentives, Decentralized Control,the Assignment of
Joint Costs and Internal Pricing". In this paper Shubik argued that the
Shapley value could be used to provide a means of devising incentive-
compatible cost assignments and internal pricing in a firm with
decentralised decision making. An early use of game theory in insurance
is Karl Borch's 1962 paper "Application of Game Theory to Some Problems
in Automobile Insurance". The article indicates how game theory can be
applied to determine premiums for different classes of insurance, when
required total premium for all classes is given. Borch suggests that the
Shapley value will give reasonable premiums for all classes of risk. In
their 1963 paper "A Limit Theorem on the Core of an Economy" Debreu and
Scarf generalised Edgeworth, in the context of a NTU game, by allowing
an arbitrary number of commodities and an arbitrary but finite number of
types of traders. In 1964 Robert J. Aumann further extended Edgeworth by
assuming that the agents constitute a (non-atomic) continuum in his
paper "Markets with a Continuum of Traders". In a series of three
papers, "Games with Incomplete Information Played by 'Bayesian'
Players", Parts I, II and III, John Harsanyi constructed the theory of
games of incomplete information. This laid the theoretical groundwork
for information economics which has become one of the major themes of
economics. This was in 1967-68.

And so on.

By the 1970s (mainly non-cooperative) GT was racing ahead in economics
and has been standard fare since then.

As to textbooks, Shubik's two volumes "Game Theory in the Social
Sciences: Concepts and Solutions" and "A Game Theoretic Approach to
Political Economy" were published in 82 and 84. The first edition of
Friedman's "Game Theory with Applications to Economics" was published in
86. Moulin's first edition of "Game Theory for the Social Sciences" came
out in 1981. Tashiro Ichiishi published "Game Theory for Economic
Analysis " in 1983.

In short, game theory has been in economics for a long while now.

--
____________________________________________________
Paul Walker p.wa...@econ.canterbury.ac.nz


David Lloyd-Jones

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Feb 23, 2002, 3:26:58 AM2/23/02
to

"Paul Walker" <p.wa...@NOT.econ.canterbury.ac.nz> wrote

<much correct stuff snipped>

> In short, game theory has been in economics for a long while now.

But Paul, you confirm my timetable exactly, if anything biasing yourself
more to the 1950's where I say 1940's, and 1990's for developments I am
willing to allow back as far as maybe 1985.

Game theory has been part of economics for a long time. The recognition of
game theory as part of economics by academic economists is very very recent,
and their pretence that they took part in the change from the beginning is
utterly bogus.

Note that Chris Auld gets himself neatly under the wire by saying loudly
that he took game theory as an undergraduate in 1987 -- on my timetable
within months either way..

-dlj.


Christopher Auld

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Feb 23, 2002, 11:15:00 AM2/23/02
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David Lloyd-Jones <dav...@sympatico.ca> wrote:

>Game theory has been part of economics for a long time. The recognition of
>game theory as part of economics by academic economists is very very recent,
>and their pretence that they took part in the change from the beginning is
>utterly bogus.

David, how much more evidence do you need that your idea
is mistaken? I agree that game theoretic modelling became
for more prevalent in the mid-seventies -- placing this
event about a decade before your revised date of 1985.
Bob, in typical Vienneavian style, manages to phrase this
as a slur -- economists "rejected" game theory up until
this time, as if the entire mathematical and conceptual
structure of game theory fell from the sky in 1945 and
economists petulantly disregarded it for thirty years.
Actually, the rise of game theoretic applications around
this time followed, and moved hand in hand with, increasing
interest in the new economics of information.

Now, note that your claim is much different than simply
noting that game theory became much more common around
1985, it's that economists were "afraid of being game
theorists" and did not "recognize game theory as economics"
until then. I've already noted that your idea that UofT
rejected whatever suggestions you made as an undergrad
because of some fear or somesuch of game theory is clearly
belied by the large number of well-known game theorists
there at the time. I don't know what you inferred from
whatever the two names you dropped told you, but what
you're saying simply doesn't hold water. I offer, as
one of many examples:

Schotter, A. and G. Schwodiauer (1980) "Economics and
the theory of games: A survey," Journal of Economic
Literature 18:479-527.

This survey predates your revised timeline five years.
It cites hundreds of articles in major mainstream
journals and dozens of textbooks dating back to the
fifties. It also notes (I didn't know this) that
game theory was very popular in the fifties:

By the late 50s the consensus in the profession
was clear: game theory was to be theory for the
small numbers case in economics.

but interest waned in the sixties, reinvigorated by the
aforementioned developments in, amongst other things,
information economics. None of this is at all consistent
with "economists didn't accept game theory (they were
afraid of it!) until 1991, oops 1985!" I think if you
want to continue this discussion you are going to have
to actually present some sort of evidence.


>Note that Chris Auld gets himself neatly under the wire by saying loudly
>that he took game theory as an undergraduate in 1987 -- on my timetable
>within months either way..

David, I first drove a car in 1985. That doesn't mean cars
were invented sometime around December of 1984 (although it
does mean that they couldn't have been invented in 1991).

Christopher Auld

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Feb 23, 2002, 6:07:41 PM2/23/02