Finding out where you began by studying where you ended up
Often in problem-solving, we find a solution but aren’t sure how we got there. Backward induction is the process of reasoning backwards in time, from the end of a problem or situation, to determine a sequence of optimal actions. It proceeds by first considering the last time a decision might be made and choosing what to do in any situation at that time. Using this information, one can then determine what to do at the second-to-last time of decision. This process continues backwards until one has determined the best action for every possible situation at every point in time. It was first used by Ernst Friedrich Ferdinand Zermelo the German logician and mathematician, in 1913, to prove that chess has pure optimal strategies.
Zermelo’s ideas have had major implications for the foundations of mathematics, for decision science, and in my own work in applied game theory.
Preston Eart a student of Applied Math offered a simple explanation of backward induction on Quora.com
He states as follows;
“If you want to know if you can build a simple bridge with planks of wood across a gap, one way you can show it’s possible is to demonstrate that…
1. You can stably install the first plank.
2. The support of the previous plank is sufficient to allow you to stably install the next plank, no matter where in the building process you are.
This is the essence of the proof by induction. Now to demonstrate this by reversing the process. This is backward induction.
Forward induction is generally an easier and more accurate approach than forward induction however sometimes you just don’t have the information needed.
Backward induction has been used to solve games as long as the field of game theory has existed. John von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern suggested solving win-lose two-person games by backward induction in their Theory of Games and Economic Behavior (1944), the book which established game theory as a field of study.
Backward induction can be a great tool for solving games, puzzles, and regular challenges in life.
However, one of the great challenges in using backward induction is that the results inferred often fail to predict actual human play. Experimental studies have shown that “rational” behavior (as predicted by game theory) is seldom exhibited in real life.
The Source of this Story
This story was created from my seminar notes for (Harrison’s Applied Game Theory). To follow all of my extended Great Game Theory Guide postings and stories, check out the Table of Contents for the first few Medium.com postings at:
If you have an interest in learning more about applied game theory, game-thinking, video game strategies, and gamer psychology you can begin by reading this short introduction to the basics of game theory below. this includes a Medium.com article (a 6-minute read) as well as a more in-depth video embedded in the article. Both were created so they would be understood by 12-year-old.
Using all of the gaming skills you have learned from the sandbox, through Rubick’s Cube, and now into video games and sports will change your life in every way, for the better.
The Article: Click on the title ‘the Best Introduction…’ just below.
If you are still a bit confused about how to apply game theory in your daily life watch the 15-minute video interview with me below, Just click on the URL.
We also offer a course in Applied Game Theory.
Click on this URL link below and explore the course.
About the Author: Lewis Harrison, is a speaker a strategist specializing in applied game theory, strategies, decision science, and personal improvement.
I am always exploring trends, innovations, areas of interest, and solutions to build new stories upon. If you have any ideas you would like me to write about just email me at LewisCoaches@gmail.com
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