The Prisoner’s Dilemma; Colonel Blotto; the Diner’s Dilemma; the Pirate Game — these are the astoundingly cool and frequently counterintuitive puzzles that have perplexed mankind’s silly little irrational and emotionally beholden brains since their conception, or at least since we saw A Beautiful Mind in 2001. To stick with the movie theme, there’s a piece of us that wants to be Rain Man or Good Will — or (be still my beating heart!) Richard Feynman. Why has there never been a biopic on Feynman, perhaps starring Woody Allen? Oh, well, I guess that’s beside the point.
The point is, now you can join these luminaries of rationality. Or at least you can understand why the strongest pirate need only give up two pieces of gold from a 100-dubloon chest in order to avoid being chucked overboard by his four perfectly rational underlings (see Pirate Game above).
Stanford University is offering a free online course in Game Theory. It starts March 19 and promises to be that awesome college class that you always wished you could take but couldn’t squeeze in between your electrical engineering core classes and that pass/fail you took in Anthro 101 to fulfill the liberal arts requirement.
Prerequisites state, “You must be comfortable with mathematical thinking and rigorous arguments. Relatively little specific math is required.” No university credit is offered, but you can watch the lectures at your leisure (as if we GeekDads have any leisure…) and it’s 100% FREE! (“Free” being the GeekDad Bat Signal.)
Faculty are a computer scientist and an economist. Watch the very good-natured video of the pair above. Really, watch the video and then try not to register. I tried and failed. You’ll see me there. (And thanks to GeekDad Max Castera for pointing me and all of you to this truly awesome resource!)