Pop Culture

Game theory in film, music, and fiction.


Game theory in music

While only a few experimental composers have actually adopted game theoretic themes into composition, game theory has influenced numerous band and album titles.
  Artist Description Clips
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album Game Theory Early 1990's band named Game Theory after "a theory of probability that's a mathematical discipline that more or less has been applied improperly to real-life situations."
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Movie scene: A clip from a live performance by the band.
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album Luke Harrald Experimental composer, software engineer, and doctoral student Luke Harrald composes around themes in computer science and game theory.
album The Roots Acclaimed hip hop band's latest album is titled "Game Theory," though the source of the name is not known.
(Hip Hop, 2006) Web Site
Movie clip: album promotional video
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album Sonic Youth "[The album] Murray Street is perhaps best seen as a product of cooperative game theory. Like all Sonic Youth albums, it is a result of individuals, striving in a collectivist environment, for goals that are only understood once they are achieved."
Sound clip: A snippet of "Disconnection Notice" off the Murray Street album.
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album Nick Didkovsky Head of "avant-rock" ensemble Doctor Nerve, guitarist and music programmer Nick Didkovsky incorporates conflict, resolution, and strategic themes into his compositions. His work, Lottery, models a public goods contribution game in composition.
album Planet Funk This Italian electronic dance music band's album, Non Zero Sumness, is apparently titled after Robert Wright's book, Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny. The book argued that ever increasing "non-zero sumness" is the destiny of humankind."
(Electronica, 2000) Web Site
Sound clip: A snippet from the album.
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album The Prisoners Dilemma An Orange County, California, based hard rock band. The origin of the name is unknown.
(Hard Rock) Web Site, Interview
Sound clip: A snippet of their song, "Arrival."
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album Iannis Xenakis Engineer turned classical composer, Xenakis formulated musical reflections of game theory with two "competing" orchestras in his compositions Duel and Strategie, both defined as "games for two orchestras."
(Classical) Fan Web Site
A book analyzing the role of mathematics in the compositions of Xenakis.
Sound clips: Samples from two (non-game-theoretic) compositions.
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