Game theory is a branch of mathematics that deals with the analysis of strategic interactions among individuals. It has become an important tool in economics, social sciences, and political science. The concept of game theory was first introduced in the early 1900s by mathematicians such as Émile Borel and John von Neumann, but it was not until later years that it became a formal field of study.

The Origins of Game Theory

The origins of game theory can be traced back to the early works of mathematicians such as Blaise Pascal and Pierre de Fermat. In 1654, Pascal and Fermat exchanged letters discussing a gambling problem called the “problem of points.”

The problem involved two players who had to divide a sum of money based on the outcome of a game they were playing. This exchange led to the development of probability theory and laid some groundwork for game theory.

Early Contributions to Game Theory

In the early 1900s, Émile Borel, a French mathematician, made significant contributions to game theory. He studied games with perfect information, where all players know all information about the game. He also introduced the concept of mixed strategies, where players choose their actions randomly with certain probabilities.

John von Neumann is another important figure in the history of game theory. In 1928, he published his paper “Zur Theorie der Gesellschaftsspiele” (“On the Theory of Parlor Games”), which is considered to be one of the founding works in game theory. He introduced the concept of zero-sum games, where one player’s gain is equal to another player’s loss.

The Emergence of Game Theory as a Formal Field

In 1944, von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern published their book “Theory of Games and Economic Behavior,” which is considered to be the first formal treatment of game theory. The book introduced the concept of non-zero-sum games, where the total gains of all players do not necessarily equal the total losses.

Since then, game theory has become an important tool in economics, political science, and social sciences. It has been used to analyze various situations such as auctions, bargaining, voting systems, and international conflicts.


In conclusion, game theory is a relatively new field of study that has become essential in understanding strategic interactions among individuals. While it was introduced by mathematicians such as Borel and von Neumann in the early 1900s, it was not until later years that it became a formal field of study. Today, game theory continues to be an important tool for analyzing various situations and making informed decisions.