Who Invented Game Theory?


Martha Robinson

Game theory is a branch of mathematics that deals with analyzing decision-making processes. It is widely used in economics, political science, and psychology.

But the question arises – Who invented game theory? Let’s explore the origins of this fascinating field.

The Early Development of Game Theory

The earliest ideas related to game theory can be traced back to the 18th century when French mathematician Antoine Cournot introduced the concept of duopoly. However, it was not until the early 20th century that game theory began to take shape as a distinct field of study.

John von Neumann

One of the most prominent figures in the development of game theory was John von Neumann. Born in Hungary in 1903, von Neumann was a mathematical prodigy who made significant contributions to various fields, including quantum mechanics and computer science.

In 1928, von Neumann published his first paper on game theory called “Zur Theorie der Gesellschaftsspiele” (On the Theory of Parlor Games). In this paper, he laid out some basic principles that would become central to game theory, such as the idea of a zero-sum game and the concept of mixed strategies.

Oskar Morgenstern

Oskar Morgenstern was an Austrian economist who collaborated with von Neumann on developing game theory further. Together they published their groundbreaking book “Theory of Games and Economic Behavior” in 1944, which became a seminal work in the field.

Morgenstern’s contributions were particularly focused on applying game theory to economic analysis. He also helped develop some key concepts such as correlated equilibrium and coalitional games.

Later Developments

Since its inception, game theory has continued to evolve and expand into other areas beyond economics. Today it is widely used in fields such as political science, psychology, and computer science.

Some of the most notable figures in the later development of game theory include John Nash, who won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1994 for his work on non-cooperative games, and Robert Aumann, who won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2005 for his work on repeated games.

In Conclusion

Game theory has come a long way since its early beginnings. Thanks to the contributions of many brilliant minds over the years, it has become an essential tool for understanding decision-making processes in a wide range of fields. While von Neumann and Morgenstern may have been instrumental in its development, game theory is truly a collaborative effort that continues to evolve with each passing year.