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Analyze different methods to make a line with game theory

The article was about two Danish researchers who used game theory to analyze different methods to wait in line. They assumed a situation where a number of people are waiting for their services and that everyone in line has two goals: they want to be served as early as possible and they want to spend the least amount of time waiting. There were three methods: first-come, first-serve; serving in random order; and last-come, first-serve. The researchers clearly found out that the traditional first-come, first-serve method has the highest waiting time, and the last-come, first- serve method has the lowest. The researchers explained that the traditional method incentivizes people to spend time waiting in line as you either a) spend more waiting to get served early or b) cut the line but be served later. While in the last-come, first-serve method, one will always be served after the newcomers, which penalizes people for waiting in the line. This method then forces people to only wait in the line when the system has the capacity to serve them.

Despite the surprising result, what should also be noted is that game theory may not always be the best solution to real life due to various reasons. In this example, even though last-come, first-serve might be a better method for making a line, it’s very unlikely that the method will be adopted in our real life, as “people often care more about fairness than about efficiency”. Thus, to apply game theory analysis in real life there must be a thorough examination of the outside variables.


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September 2015