What Is Maximin and Minimax Principle in Game Theory?


Diego Sanchez

Game theory is a branch of mathematics that analyzes decision-making in strategic situations. It has numerous applications in fields like economics, political science, and psychology. One of the most fundamental concepts in game theory is the maximin and minimax principle.

Maximin Principle

The maximin principle is a decision-making strategy for situations where the outcomes are uncertain. It involves identifying the worst possible outcome for each option and then selecting the one with the best worst-case scenario.

For example, imagine you are playing a game where you can either choose to roll a dice or not roll it. If you roll the dice, you have a 50% chance of winning $100 and a 50% chance of losing $50. If you don’t roll the dice, you’ll earn $20 regardless.

Using the maximin principle, we would identify that if we choose to roll the dice, our worst-case scenario is losing $50. If we choose not to roll it, our worst-case scenario is earning only $20. Therefore, according to the maximin principle, we should choose to roll the dice since it has a better worst-case scenario than not rolling it.

Minimax Principle

The minimax principle is another decision-making strategy used in game theory. It involves identifying the best possible outcome for each option and then selecting the one with the worst best-case scenario.

For instance, let’s say that two players are playing chess against each other and they both want to win. In this case, they would use minimax principle to decide their next moves by considering all possible moves and their outcomes.

The goal here is to maximize your own chances of winning while minimizing your opponent’s chances of winning – hence “minimax.” You would analyze every potential move your opponent could make and choose your own move based on what would give them the smallest advantage.

Maximin vs. Minimax

While maximin and minimax principles may seem similar, they are actually opposite strategies. The maximin principle is a defensive strategy, while the minimax principle is an offensive one.

The maximin principle focuses on minimizing the worst possible outcome, which is useful in situations where you don’t have much control over the outcome. On the other hand, the minimax principle focuses on maximizing your best possible outcome, which is useful in situations where you have more control over the outcome.


In conclusion, game theory offers several decision-making tools to help us analyze strategic situations and make informed choices. The maximin principle and minimax principle are two such tools that can be used to make decisions when outcomes are uncertain or when playing games against opponents.

By considering both principles and their respective strengths and weaknesses, we can make better decisions in life and business.