January 26, 2008
It looks like Econ367: Game Theory is taking the award for Most Amusing Class of Spring 2008. To start off, Professor Basu opened the class with a few “parlor games” and explained the significance of sequence and theory in order to determine the winner of these “parlor games.”
Let’s say that you and a friend are playing an intense game of Cover a Round Table with Coins. Your goal is to win the coin-count so that when it’s your friend’s turn to move, there is nowhere to place their coin. All the coins are the same size and cannot be stacked or overlapped, but the spacing between coins can vary. How/why does the first mover always win?
Professor Basu also introduced a game called “Hex,” a John Nash favorite while at Princeton. Legend has it that Nash and his colleagues enjoyed playing a few rounds of Hex while hanging out in the bathroom and staring at the hexagon-tiled floor. So you have a rhombus board with congruent hexagon tiles. Two opposite sides (say, left and right) represent one color, and the remaining opposite sites (up and down) represent another. Each color’s goal is to connect a bridge from one side to another: think Connect Four. Basu said that if both players are rational, then the first mover will always win.
Why does the first mover always win? That’s something Basu will cover this semester. Connect Four in class? I’m hooked.