Game theory to win game shows

Posted to Statistics  |  Tags: ,  |  Nathan Yau

I like how a little bit of game theory has crept into Jeopardy! with contestant Arthur Chu. He bounces around the board in search of Daily Doubles and bets to tie in final Jepoardy. Chu doesn’t know much about game theory himself but applies rules promoted by a past contestant.

The ultimate champion, Ken Jennings, praises Chu on Slate.

But in fact, plenty of nice white boys on Jeopardy! have been pilloried by viewers for using Arthur Chu’s signature technique: bopping around the game board seemingly at whim, rather than choosing the clues from top to bottom, as most contestants do. This is Chu’s great crime, the kind of anarchy that hard-core Jeopardy! fans will not countenance. The technique was pioneered in 1985 by a five-time champ named Chuck Forrest, whose law school roommate suggested it. The “Forrest bounce,” as fans still call it, kept opponents off balance. He would know ahead of time where the next clue would pop up; they’d be a second slow.

I don’t watch Jeopardy! much, but it’s pretty fun to watch Chu dominate.

Then there’s the most recent RadioLab. The first part talks about a game show called Golden Balls and the prisoner’s dilemma, and how a guy — who plays and wins game shows for a living — won this one. The whole show is entertaining as usual, but this first part is of particular interest. After listening to that, watch the Golden Balls clip to see how it played out.

Favorites

Pizza Place Geography

Most of the major pizza chains are within a 5-mile radius of where I live, so I have my pick, …

Watching the growth of Walmart – now with 100% more Sam’s Club

The ever so popular Walmart growth map gets an update, and yes, it still looks like a wildfire. Sam’s Club follows soon after, although not nearly as vigorously.

The Best Data Visualization Projects of 2014

It’s always tough to pick my favorite visualization projects. Nevertheless, I gave it a go.

Shifting Incomes for American Jobs

For various occupations, the difference between the person who makes the most and the one who makes the least can be significant.