Sunday, March 18, 2007

Game [Show] Theory

Recently, the first 3-way tie in the history of Jeopardy occured. I found a YouTube link for it here. The two trailing contestants were tied for $8,000 dollars. The leader bet $2,600 resulting in $16,000 for each of the three contestants.

Most interesting (and insulting, actually) are many of the YouTube comments disparaging the winning player for not winning, but it seems quite clear to that the leader bet fully aware, and quite possibly hopeful, of the game ending as it did.

Judging from facial expressions, I think some of it was altruistic, but I think a good case can also be made for it being a rational choice as well. Is it really worth earning one more dollar and winning, if it means giving up a decent chance of replaying two players who are known quantities already defeated once?

Seems to me spending $1 to play two players you already beat is a reasonable expense.

Update: I just stumbled onto some interesting coverage of this at Lance Fortnow's Computational Complexity.


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