game theory

Does it pay to be nice? Yes, it does. And we're not just talking about that warm fuzzy feeling inside, it pays in evolutionary terms of genetic success too. We talk to Martin Nowak about how the mathematics of evolution prove that being nice is unavoidable.

It does pay to be nice if you repeatedly deal with the same person. Martin Nowak explains why cooperation also wins in matters of reputation, neighbourliness and family. But can evolutionary game theory save the world?

One of the most puzzling aspects of human behaviour is cooperation, in situations where backstabbing and selfishness would seem to be more rewarding. From the point of view of evolutionary theory, the very existence of altruism and cooperation appear mysterious.

A 1 in 14 million chance to win the lottery, a 5% risk of cancer, a 50:50 chance of heads on a coin — we deal with probabilities all the time, but do they actually mean anything? We explore the philosophy of probability and ask whether the probabilities that come up in physics differ from those in every day life.

Are there objective chances in the world?

Is poker a game of psychology and cunning rather than strategy? We investigate the maths of bluffing.

Would you stake your fortune on a 100 to 1 outsider? Probably not. But what if, somewhere in a parallel universe, the straggling nag does come in first? Would the pleasure you feel in that universe outweigh the pain you feel in the one in which you've lost? Questions not dissimilar to this one occupy physicists and for entirely respectable reasons.

In the previous article we explored how a clever argument involving gambling makes the idea that there are parallel universes more credible. But does it really?

How do you best allocate students to universities, doctors to hospitals, or kidneys to transplant patients? It's a tough problem that has earned this year's Memorial Prize in Economics.

Andy Murray and Laura Robson made a good team at London 2012, bringing home silver in the mixed doubles. But how do you make sure that the competing pair is the best you can pick from the team?

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