Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Dog eat dog world of Game Theory

Out on a walk in the morning, I saw four or five very excited dogs that had surrounded a man sitting on his haunches.

Getting closer, I realised that this man had brought food for them, which naturally led to all the excitement. There was another dog (let's call him White) some paces away, who was kept pushed back and not allowed to join in the party by those who got there first!

I moved quickly to gain a safe distance. That's when I noticed yet another dog (Black, okay?) some 100 metres further down, also walking determinedly to crash the party.

The dramatis personae had gathered and I began to wonder how the script would unfold. Will the two latecomers be able to take on a numerically stronger, established group?

White seemed to debate the same question as he waited for his natural ally to reach the scene. 

They were dealing with dangerous guys, and White knew the odds well. So he quickly went over his notes of , that no doubt his professors in the school of hard knocks had drilled in very solidly. And he declared his strategy by energetically challenging the newcomer!

A ferocious, and probably unnecessary contest, seemed all set, when one from the entrenched group broke away and joined White in beating away the intruder.

And then both returned happily to the party. How cool, I thought!

I moved on, contemplating the lessons so brilliantly worked out by  but even more amazed by how nature has given all her creatures the ability to work out answers, without recourse to any theory. Wish I learnt to theorize less and experience more.

A little later I saw the problem developing in to a game theory nightmare. Two more dogs were following the scent of the friendly man that brought food each morning.


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