Interactive decision making

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When I was a freshman at Dartmouth one of the classes I was most interested in taking was on game theory, which sounded both fabulously fun (games!) and incredibly interesting (theories!) Luckily I read the reviews of the class before I signed up which unanimously decried the class as not at all fun and not at all interesting.

Game theory encompasses a variety of explanations of relatively simple behavior in mathematically complex ways. For instance, in A Beautiful Mind, John Nash stumbles upon his famous equilibrium concept by checking out ladies at a bar:


Easy, right? Well here’s the mathematical equation for this phenomenon: \forall i,x_i\in S_i, x_i \neq x^*_{i} :  f_i(x^*_{i}, x^*_{-i}) \geq f_i(x_{i},x^*_{-i}).

Dr. Haim Shapiro, game theorist, calls this type of a equation a mathematical x-ray of a situation. Indeed it looks something like the bones of a complex organism. Here, in a TEDtalk, he discusses the Beautiful Mind scene as well as several other examples of strategy:


Well I’m off to meet up with friends for dinner. Now I just have to figure out how to make them pay for my filete a la rossini

Great Oscar speeches

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Let’s face it, the Oscars can get pretty boring. We watch for the dresses, we watch for the opening monologue, we may watch this year to see what James Franco and Anne Hathaway have up their sleeves, but we never watch to hear one more long list of names we don’t recognize (though, of course, those who get named must be ecstatic beyond belief). Luckily, some speeches are a little more interesting than just names. First is a compilation of excerpts from memorable speeches, and underneath are some of my personal favorites.

I love Jon Stewart, I loved him as an Oscar host, but perhaps I never loved him as much as when he brought out Marketa Irglova (about 1:30 in the clip) to properly accept her award in 2008 for Best Song. She ended up giving the best speech of the night.

Denzel Washington wins Best Actor and gives a shout-out to Poitier, who was awarded an Oscar the same night:

Though Russell Crowe may be neither short nor sweet, his speech was:

On the flip side, when Adrian Brody won Best Actor for The Pianist, his speech lasted much longer than the time he was allotted (he tells the music to “cut it out, I only get one shot at this”) but so much of it is great.