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Game theory in film, music, and fiction.



Movie suggested by Daniel Dunn

Mike Peters asks his friend Rob for advice. Following a breakup with his girlfriend, he must decide whether or not to call her. Rob instructs him that the decision, of course, depends on whether or not Mike wants to give up on her and the relationship or not. A pooling equilibrium is described -- an outcome in which each type (those that want to give up on reconciliation and those that do not) take the same action, thus making people of different types indistinguishable. This, obviously, leads to some confusion.

Mike Peters: Okay, so what if I don't want to give up on her?
Rob: You don't call.
Mike Peters: But you said I don't call if I wanted to give up on her.
Rob: Right.
Mike Peters: So I don't call either way?
Rob: Right.
Mike Peters: So what's the difference?
Rob: There is no difference right now. See, Mike, the only difference between giving up and not giving up is if you take her back when she wants to come back. But you can't do anything to make her want to come back. In fact, you can only do stuff to make her not want to come back.
Mike Peters: So the only difference is if I forget about her or just pretend to forget about her?
Rob: Right.
Mike Peters: Well that sucks.
Rob: Yeah, it sucks.
Mike Peters: So it's just like a retroactive decision, then? I mean I could, like, forget about her and then when she comes back make like I just pretended to forget about her?
Rob: Right. Although probably more likely the opposite.
Mike Peters: What do you mean?
Rob: I mean at first you're going to pretend to forget about her, you'll not call her, I don't know, whatever... but then eventually, you really will forget about her.
Mike Peters: Well what if she comes back first?
Rob: Mmmm... see, that's the thing, is somehow they know not to come back until you really forget.
Mike Peters: There's the rub.
Rob: There's the rub.