Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Mixed strategy at the superbowl

Justin Wolfers at The Upshot has a very good piece applying a concept from game theory to Seattle's controversial decision to pass in the final moments:
The key insight of game theory for an N.F.L. coach is that when you think about what choice you should make, you need to also consider the response from the opposing coach, understanding that he is also thinking strategically. This line of thinking suggests that you should not necessarily call a run play, even if you’re blessed with a great running back. Likewise, it’s not clear that you should definitely pass. Rather, your choice should be somewhat random — a choice that game theorists call a “mixed strategy.”
Most popular articles about game theory seem to apply the method to situations where the theory really doesn't help much. This article identifies an ideal circumstance that produces a nice non-obvious result.

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