Friday, 15 June 2012

New book from Ariel Rubinstein

Well known game theorist Ariel Rubinstein has a new book out, Economic Fables.
Part memoir, part crash-course in economic theory, this deeply engaging book by one of the world's foremost economists looks at economic ideas through a personal lens. Together with an introduction to some of the central concepts in modern economic thought, Ariel Rubinstein offers some powerful and entertaining reflections on his childhood, family and career. In doing so, he challenges many of the central tenets of game theory, and sheds light on the role economics can play in society at large.
Alvin Roth tells this story of an  with Rubinstein,
I once gave a talk at the Hebrew University that was followed immediately with a talk by Ariel, to the same audience. My talk was called something like "The Economist as Engineer," and focused on the kinds of market design applications of game theory covered in this blog: labor market clearinghouses for doctors and others, school choice mechanisms in various American cities, kidney exchange...

Ariel's talk was called something like "Why game theory isn't useful."

So, I gave my talk, we broke for a fifteen minute coffee break, then we all came back and Ariel stood up and I sat where he had been sitting and everyone else returned to their seats. Naturally the first question he got, just about when he had finished saying the title of his talk, was "how about all that stuff that Al just talked about? Isn't it useful?"

He answered (I paraphrase from memory): "Oh, Al's stuff is useful alright. But it's not game theory."
The book can be read online here.

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