SPEECH Rubinstein Elaborates on John Nash’s Game Theory By Patrick Skeehan Special to The Hoya

Lucye Rafferty/The Hoya Professor Ariel Rubinstein discusses game theory yesterday in ICC Auditorium.

Here’s a problem: you have to share $100 with someone that you don’t know. You must offer to split the money with him in a certain way. He must accept or reject the offer, and if he rejects, neither of you will get anything.

So what do you do?

This is obviously not your normal math problem. It was, however, one of the questions posed by Professor Ariel Rubinstein, who kept faculty and students entertained with his lecture, entitled “John Nash: A Beautiful Mind and Game Theory” last night in the Intercultural Center Auditorium.

Rubinstein, is a native of Jerusalem and a professor of economics at Tel Aviv University and at Princeton University, addressed a full crowd consisting of Economics Department faculty members as well as undergraduate and graduate economics students, on the usefulness of game theory. He also gave great credit to the 1994 Nobel Laureate John Nash, the subject of the recent Academy Award-winning film, A Beautiful Mind, on his achievements regarding game theory.

Rubinstein began by talking about his first experience with John Nash, the world renowned, yet schizophrenic, mathematician.

“I had heard about a brilliant student who was said to be somewhat crazy, but what fascinates me the most is his attempt to use mathematical models to think about life,” Rubinstein said.

To help explain his points on game theory, Rubinstein provided sample problems, or “games” that applied to game theory and showed the results of the answers to the questions from schools around the nation, including Georgetown.

He also emphasized the fact that playing a game involves making judgments.

“Decision makers think rationally and rely on others before actually making a decision,” he said.

As a prerequisite, participants who came to the lecture were asked to take part in an online session of six problems that they were prompted to solve. During the lecture, Rubinstein pulled up the results and analyzed how game theory allows one to think rationally and arrive at the correct answer.

“Game theory is much similar to logic,” said Rubinstein. “It is much a relation between life and the abstract, a study of decision making in competitive situations.” Rubinstein also addressed the concepts that contributed to the famous Nash equilibrium and his personal experiences with John Nash, emphasizing that Nash’s work allowed game theory to be applied to wide methods of research.

“There exist so many fields of research with so many questions; game theory is one method we use to answer some of these questions in science, technology, economics and so much more.”

In addition, Rubinstein also addressed the accuracy of A Beautiful Mind in describing the character of Nash. He noted that the movie effectively trapped the audience in the mind of Nash, who suffered from schizophrenia for a major part of his life.

“Nash was a man who was able to prove statements that we couldn’t even fathom,” Rubinstein concluded, “but he forced us to look to the edge of our minds, and forced us to be aware of this in our own minds.”

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