Re: The Sopranos and Game Theory

#11
turangawaewae wrote:Don't know about beginners, but Ronald Coase is a biggie in game theory. John Nash is as well (both won a Nobel prize for economics).
The movie A Beautiful Mind depicts Nash (Russell Crowe) coming up with his theorem, later to be known as the Nash equilibrium, but it is depicted incorrectly in the movie (typical Hollywood).

Please elaborate- i loved that movie, but did barely get the idea there were huge holes in their depiction of a complex topic. i could tell i was too uninformed to grasp the problem though. Its almost 11pm here in Cali, so i'll check your answers tomorrow! :smile:

Re: The Sopranos and Game Theory

#12
bada,

Patsy stood up to Paulie's homophobic diatribe eyeballed him and asserted that someone's sexuality made no difference to him.

On the other hand Tony might have thought that, but he came out of it looking like a vacillating leader in the eyes of the others.

I never thought I would get around to praising a gangster but there were many other instances that made me think that Patsy had the makings of a strong leader and that Tony erred by not promoting him up in the ranks.

Re: The Sopranos and Game Theory

#13
badabellisima wrote:Veeeeery interesting thread- finally i hope to hear more of these economic theories that we started to explore back in the Lady or Tiger thread! Unfortunately i am a complete dunce on this topic, but i'll jump in anyway.

SO- Tony devised a strategy to handle Vito's murder which also considered Tony's expected response from Phil and his crew.

But if Tony's strategy was BASED UPON his expected response from Phil, would that be applying Game Theory? In other words, if Tony had based his strategy on Phil's expected response, rather than just considering it- would the outcome possibly have been better or more succesful? Is it more practical to base a strategy on the other party's (expected) response?

Maybe Tony didn't even realize who the "other party" is in the situation in order to make a determination of assessing an expectation of response. He could have thought that New York's response was the party to have an expectation to base strategy decisions on. In other words, Tony could have argued that if he didn't take out Phil, NY might have thought he was too weak and moved in on him anyway.

Oka, i see lots flaws in my first attempt here. And in any event, its not answering your main question about Tony's biggest strategic mistakes. And further, the avenging of Vito's murder thru the Phil hit probably wasn't his main or biggest strategic mistake- or even a strategic mistake at all. --Could be that he applied Game Theory well, and killing off Phil is what allowed him to enjoy onion rings yet another day...:icon_mrgreen:



Sorry Bada, I should have mentioned an underlying assumption we have in economics, that party's act rationally. So once Tony worked out Phil's expected response, he would chose his optimal response. So considering and acting on would be one and the same. I can hear people now saying Tony, Rational?? In economics we have the term utility for satisfaction. Someone is rational when they maximise their utility. So we say a drug addict may well be rational, if all things considered, they increase their utility or satisfaction by taking drugs.

Take the example where Tony stomps out Coco's teeth in the bar. At the time, that was the strategy which yielded Tony the most satisfaction. It was a rational response at the time. Upon reflection, if he used game theory (which he didn't at the time due to blind rage!!), he may well have concluded stomping Coco wasn't the optimal response. Where some people would say Tony went into an irrational rage and stomped Coco, an economist would say Tony was acting rationally at the time when he stomped Coco, as stomping him gave him the most satisfaction at the time. Am I confusing you?? I'm starting to confuse myself....

Of course you're optimal strategy is only as good as your information. Tony could make the optimal decision on what he thinks Phil's response will be based on the information to hand, but he may find out it was the wrong decision further down the track based on new information. We would still say he chose the optimal strategy at the time, because he was acting on what he believed Phil's response would be at the time.

Re: The Sopranos and Game Theory

#14
badabellisima wrote:Please elaborate- i loved that movie, but did barely get the idea there were huge holes in their depiction of a complex topic. i could tell i was too uninformed to grasp the problem though. Its almost 11pm here in Cali, so i'll check your answers tomorrow! :smile:


Baby steps Bada:icon_mrgreen: I spend two lectures on this in my classes!!
Before we go into a beautiful mind, it's probably best to understand the classic example of game theory, which is the prisoners dilemma. When I teach this, I actually use the sopranos as an example!!
Two people are arrested for a small crime. They are caught red handed, and will both be sentenced to 1 year in prison each. However, the police suspect they are both guilty of a more serious crime, which will be punishable by 8 years in prison each with a guilty plea. If the case goes to trial and they are found guilty, they would get 10 years jail each (they don't get any credit for an early guilty plea). However, as it stands, the police don't have enough evidence to get a conviction in the more serious crime. So they employ a bit of game theory. The police put one prisoner in each room, and offers each the same deal. If you plead guilty and testify against the other prisoner in court, you will serve no jail time.
So there are four possible outcomes:
Neither prisoner confesses to the serious crime, both get 1 year in prison for the minor crime.
Both confess, there is no trial, and both prisoners get 8 years.
Prisoner 1 confesses, and prisoner 2 doesn't, prisoner 1 becomes star witness, gets no jail time, and prisoner 2 gets 10 years
Prisoner 2 confesses, and prisoner 1 doesn't, prisoner 2 becomes star witness, gets no jail time, and prisoner 1 gets 10 years.

If you are prisoner 1, what is your optimal strategy? Should you confess?

This is very well known, and if you google it you can get the answer, but what do you think Bada? Out of the 1000 students I teach a year, about 750 say don't confess.

The second question, is how do I intergrate the Sopranos? Up to this point in my class, I don't mention the Sopranos, but I do in the next bit....

Re: The Sopranos and Game Theory

#15
I'm really not sure about the whole "Game Theory". But I would think the biggest tactical error Tony made was the handling of his cousin, Tony Blundetto.

First off..he violated rules..His cousin did an unsanctioned hit. Blundetto should have been handed over to NY. Instead of handing over Tony B, Tony handles the situation himself. These chain of events immediately create tension with NY and the underboss, Phil.

2nd..Tony is not protecting the other members of his crime family. This opens the door to other members of the family being targeted by NY. The other guys in his crew recognize that Tony S. is protecting his cousin in a special way. I'm sure these actions would have had an effect on their loyalty toward Tony S. Basically, Tony S is saying "Tony B is more important then the other soldiers in the family"

We all know the outcome. Once Phil became boss, he wanted to Fu%# with Tony and his crews money. Phil knew Tony handled that situation in an unprofessional manner, therefor it gave Phil and NY a legitmate reason to hate him..and in turn, looked to take over the NJ crew.

I also think, if the Blundetto incident was handled correctly, Phil would have just laughed the whole Vito situation off. But at that point, Phil was looking for any reason to put down and "squeeze" Tony and his crew.

I think that was Tony's biggest error.

Also I would like to add one more...The botched hit on Phil was definetly another terrible tactical error. Tony should've had one of his BEST handle that particular murder. I understand the reason why the "zips" were hired out for that job. But the bottom line..if you are going to kill a boss, atleast make sure the guys know for sure who they are trying to kill. I mean, they could have disguised Benny in a "pizza boy" outfit and had him kill Phil. HA!They were still able to get Phil even when he was in hiding. So I'm sure they didn't need the zips.

Not sure if that falls under the Game Theory..but hea..they were def. errors Tony could have handled in a different manner.

Re: The Sopranos and Game Theory

#16
I'm really not sure about the whole "Game Theory". But I would think the biggest tactical error Tony made was the handling of his cousin, Tony Blundetto.

First off..he violated rules..His cousin did an unsanctioned hit. Blundetto should have been handed over to NY. Instead of handing over Tony B, Tony handles the situation himself. These chain of events immediately create tension with NY and the underboss, Phil.

2nd..Tony is not protecting the other members of his crime family. This opens the door to other members of the family being targeted by NY. The other guys in his crew recognize that Tony S. is protecting his cousin in a special way. I'm sure these actions would have had an effect on their loyalty toward Tony S. Basically, Tony S is saying "Tony B is more important then the other soldiers in the family"

We all know the outcome. Once Phil became boss, he wanted to Fu%# with Tony and his crews money. Phil knew Tony handled that situation in an unprofessional manner, therefor it gave Phil and NY a legitmate reason to hate him..and in turn, looked to take of the NJ crew.

I also think, if the Blundetto incident was handled correctly, Phil would have just laughed the whole Vito situation off. But at that point, Phil was looking for any reason to put down and "squeeze" Tony and his crew.

I think that was Tony's biggest error.

Also I would like to add one more...The botched hit on Phil was definetly another terrible tactical error. Tony should've had one of his BEST handle that particular murder. I understand the reason why the "zips" were hired out for that job. But the bottom line..if you are going to kill a boss, atleast make sure the guys know for sure who they are trying to kill. I mean, the could have disguised Benny in a "pizza boy" outfit and had him kill Phil. HA!They were still able to get Phil even when he was in hiding. So I'm sure they didn't need the zips.

Not sure if that falls under the Game Theory..but hea..they were def. errors Tony could have handled in a different manner.

Re: The Sopranos and Game Theory

#17
I agree Aprilemoney that Tony blew it on the Tony B thing and i couldn't believe how much they were botching the Phil hit. When they finally got it 'right'- it was spectacular though. Still- doing it in front of the wife and grandkids like that was brutal. i guess it was the only way they could get to him. As far as Phil maybe not caring so much about the Vito problem if it hadn't have been for the other stuff- not sure. Seems like no matter what, the writers were determined to find a way to get that storyline in there- obsessed with it really- and for waaaaay tooooo looooong. That whole Vito thing got really old- like Phil.

Re: The Sopranos and Game Theory

#18
turangawaewae wrote:Baby steps Bada:icon_mrgreen: I spend two lectures on this in my classes!!
Before we go into a beautiful mind, it's probably best to understand the classic example of game theory, which is the prisoners dilemma. When I teach this, I actually use the sopranos as an example!!
Two people are arrested for a small crime. They are caught red handed, and will both be sentenced to 1 year in prison each. However, the police suspect they are both guilty of a more serious crime, which will be punishable by 8 years in prison each with a guilty plea. If the case goes to trial and they are found guilty, they would get 10 years jail each (they don't get any credit for an early guilty plea). However, as it stands, the police don't have enough evidence to get a conviction in the more serious crime. So they employ a bit of game theory. The police put one prisoner in each room, and offers each the same deal. If you plead guilty and testify against the other prisoner in court, you will serve no jail time.
So there are four possible outcomes:
Neither prisoner confesses to the serious crime, both get 1 year in prison for the minor crime.
Both confess, there is no trial, and both prisoners get 8 years.
Prisoner 1 confesses, and prisoner 2 doesn't, prisoner 1 becomes star witness, gets no jail time, and prisoner 2 gets 10 years
Prisoner 2 confesses, and prisoner 1 doesn't, prisoner 2 becomes star witness, gets no jail time, and prisoner 1 gets 10 years.

If you are prisoner 1, what is your optimal strategy? Should you confess?

This is very well known, and if you google it you can get the answer, but what do you think Bada? Out of the 1000 students I teach a year, about 750 say don't confess.

The second question, is how do I intergrate the Sopranos? Up to this point in my class, I don't mention the Sopranos, but I do in the next bit....


So there are four possible outcomes:
1. Neither prisoner confesses to the serious crime, both get 1 year in prison for the minor crime.
2. Both confess, there is no trial, and both prisoners get 8 years.
3. Prisoner 1 confesses, and prisoner 2 doesn't, prisoner 1 becomes star witness, gets no jail time, and prisoner 2 gets 10 years
4. Prisoner 2 confesses, and prisoner 1 doesn't, prisoner 2 becomes star witness, gets no jail time, and prisoner 1 gets 10 years.

Sounds like the outcomes 3 and 4 are the same for each "confessor" so they balance eachother out. And the same outcome for both in #2. And that leaves No.1 as the most likely. The choices for Prisoner number one are the same as for Prisoner No.2. The best strategy is to not confess at all since there is no way to know what the other prisoner will do. You can only hope that th eother prisoner is employing the same logic.

This Does remind me of the choices that the Courtier had to make in the Lady or Tiger Tale! Which Door? To choose or not to choose?

Re: The Sopranos and Game Theory

#19
badabellisima wrote:So there are four possible outcomes:
1. Neither prisoner confesses to the serious crime, both get 1 year in prison for the minor crime.
2. Both confess, there is no trial, and both prisoners get 8 years.
3. Prisoner 1 confesses, and prisoner 2 doesn't, prisoner 1 becomes star witness, gets no jail time, and prisoner 2 gets 10 years
4. Prisoner 2 confesses, and prisoner 1 doesn't, prisoner 2 becomes star witness, gets no jail time, and prisoner 1 gets 10 years.

Sounds like the outcomes 3 and 4 are the same for each "confessor" so they balance eachother out. And the same outcome for both in #2. And that leaves No.1 as the most likely. The choices for Prisoner number one are the same as for Prisoner No.2. The best strategy is to not confess at all since there is no way to know what the other prisoner will do. You can only hope that th eother prisoner is employing the same logic.

This Does remind me of the choices that the Courtier had to make in the Lady or Tiger Tale! Which Door? To choose or not to choose?



Except for this one, there is a definitive answer.
Most people will respond as you have, but you still need to think in terms of the other persons response.

If prisoner 2 confesses, you have two options. Confess, and get 8 years, don't confess, and get 10 years jail time (because prisoner 2 will turn star witness). So if prisoner 2 confesses, your optimal outcome is to confess.
If prisoner 2 doesn't confess, you have two options. Don't confess, and you get 1 year, confess and you get no jail time as you turn star witness. If prisoner 2 doesn't confess, your optimal strategy is to confess.

So no matter what prisoner 2 does, your optimal strategy is to confess!!
You're right, prisoner 2 faces the same chioces. So if both players play their optimal outcome, both confess, and they both do 8 years. Police actually use this technique in real life. Of course, you would both have been better off if you had both not confessed. You could both collude, and make a pact to not confess. But if the other prisoner is not confessing, you have an incentive to confess and do no time, rather than serving a year in prison. Thats why pacts or cartel are inherently unstable.

Of course, this is set up where jail time is the only cost. That is when I bring in the sopranos during lecture. I explain what I have just explained above, then say how would the outcomes differ if you were prisoner one and Tony Soprano was prisoner 2. Unless you want to end up under a concrete slab somewhere, you don't confess. That is because Tony is what we call a credible threat. If you make a deal to collude and both not confess, you know that you are dead if you do confess, which make not confessing and doing one year more attractive than confessing and doing no time. Of course, once Tony knows you are not confessing, he could confess, do no time, and you do 10 years!! So even with the credible threat of Tony, it may still be optimal to confess.

Re: The Sopranos and Game Theory

#20
turangawaewae wrote:Except for this one, there is a definitive answer.
Most people will respond as you have, but you still need to think in terms of the other persons response.

If prisoner 2 confesses, you have two options. Confess, and get 8 years, don't confess, and get 10 years jail time (because prisoner 2 will turn star witness). So if prisoner 2 confesses, your optimal outcome is to confess.
If prisoner 2 doesn't confess, you have two options. Don't confess, and you get 1 year, confess and you get no jail time as you turn star witness. If prisoner 2 doesn't confess, your optimal strategy is to confess.

So no matter what prisoner 2 does, your optimal strategy is to confess!!
You're right, prisoner 2 faces the same chioces. So if both players play their optimal outcome, both confess, and they both do 8 years. Police actually use this technique in real life. Of course, you would both have been better off if you had both not confessed. You could both collude, and make a pact to not confess. But if the other prisoner is not confessing, you have an incentive to confess and do no time, rather than serving a year in prison. Thats why pacts or cartel are inherently unstable.

Of course, this is set up where jail time is the only cost. That is when I bring the sopranos in my lecture. I explain what I have just explained above, then ay how would the outcomes differ if you were prisoner one and Tony Soprano was prsioner 2. Unless you want to end up under a concrete slab somewhere, you don't confess. That is because Tony is what we call a credible threat. If you make a deal to collude and both not confess, you know that you are dead if you do confess, which make not confessing and doing one year more attractive than confessing and doing no time. Of course, once Tony knows you are not confessing, he could confess, do no time, and you do 10 years!! So even with the credible threat of Tony, it may still be optimea to confess.


Oh!- You didn't mention that the other prisoner would get to have knowledge of the other prisoner's confession or lack of one. i thought they were separated in two rooms and were making isolated, independant and final decisions without knowledge of the other's position.

This so like the Lady or Tiger Tale! You economists have got me hooked. Now i am regretting not hanging in there with it in college. But i was so unable to get it- just like now! Except for some reason i am now motivated to understand.
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