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Games that the Human Mind has Difficulties to Solve

Games lubricate the body and the mind.

Benjamin Franklin

So why we do not always win in the games based on skills, such as, for example, chess or poker? It would seem that all the strategies are devised, all the concepts and patterns are studied. But there is no man who would always win. No matter who the opponent is, the computer or a human, it’s not luck, skill or experience – a person loses. Scientists have found out that this may have a very serious justification.

Physicist at the University of Manchester, who publishes many of his researches in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found out that some games simply cannot be fully explored, or, in other words, they are too complex for the human mind. Dr. Tobias Galla from the University of Manchester and Professor Doina Farmer of the University of Oxford and Santa Fe Institute, watched thousands of games with two players and analyze how human behavior throughout the game affects the choice of the course to go.

In simple games with little steps, such as Tic-Tac-Toe, it is easy to trace the optimal strategy, so the game quickly becomes uninteresting. However, when it comes to more complex games, in which a lot of moves and levels (e.g., chess, board game or a complex of card games), academics argue that the players are less rational; it is difficult to find the optimal strategy.

This study may have implications for the financial markets. Many economists predict the financial base of the stock market on the theory of Nash equilibrium. Nash equilibrium is a collection of game strategies, which are selected by participants (two or more players) and their winnings. This approach assumes that traders have to be very smart and perfectly rational. This, as believed by academics, rarely occurs and this leads to the prediction of how financial markets react to events that are too inaccurate.

Much of the traditional game theory, the basis of the strategic decision is based on the equilibrium point: the players or the financiers have a deep and thorough understanding of what they are doing and what their opponents are doing. Dr. Gall, from the School of Physics and Astronomy, said: “The balance is not always what you need to look in the game. In many situations, people do not adhere to the strategy of the game balance; instead they can act randomly or erratically for many reasons. Thus, to base predictions on a model of balance is not always appropriate”. If you consider trading in the stock market, for example, you can have thousands of units range from which to choose, and people do not always behave rationally in these situations, or they do not have enough information to act rationally. This may have a profound effect on how markets react. “Maybe we should forget the usual game theory and instead use new approaches to predict how people can behave”.

Along with Manchester physicist and doctoral student in philosophy pair of scientists hope to extend their studies to multiplayer games, and most importantly, the team is going to investigate the changes in the game over time, it would be a closer analogy of how the financial markets work. Preliminary results suggest that due to increase in the number of players the possibility that the Nash Equilibrium is achieved reduces. Thus, for complex games, in which more than two players are involved, and for financial markets the balance is the less likely the more participants are involved.

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