A Canadian professor with expertise in numerous mathematical disciplines, both pure and applied, presented the Department of Mathematics distinguished lecture Oct. 23.
Jason Bell, professor, Department of Pure Mathematics, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, spoke about game theory, a discipline in mathematics that studies strategy and decision making in competitive situations at the Kraemer Family Library.
Game theory is used by economists, political scientists, foreign policy experts, biologists and many other disciplines. Bell provided basic points of the theory, including what it means for a game to be solved. He also touched on topics such as Nash Equilibria and prisoner’s dilemma.
Nash Equilibria is an idea that won John Nash the 1994 Nobel Prize in economics. Prisoner’s dilemma is a game theory where the prisoners can choose to either cooperate or defect. Computer experiments have shown that when facing numerous different strategies, it is generally the strategies that tend to cooperate that are more successful than the “greedy” strategies that try to take advantage of the niceness of other strategies, Bell said.
Bell’s lecture was attended by faculty and students and is an example of the department’s efforts to bring leaders in their respective fields to campus and to connect math to other disciplines, according to Barbara Prinari, associate professor, Department of Mathematics.