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Class ’58 Alums Initiate Game Theory Lecture Series for Faculty
yu-jin nam 11 front page editor volume 85
May 20, 2009

Game Theory is the mathematical analysis of strategy in any competitive situation.

Fully aware of Deerfield’s competitive environment, Brian Rosborough ’58 thought a lecture series on this topic would benefit students and faculty alike. He initiated Deerfield’s game theory lecture series by contacting his former classmate Bob Fernholz ’58.

Originally developed as a branch of mathematics, the theory attempts to analyze any competitive situation with an outcome that benefits one or more participant. It challenges one to develop a strategy that is most suitable for the players of any kind of competition.

“This theory can be applied to anything from simple games such as tic-tac-toe and chess to a country’s complicated political and economic strategy. It virtually expands to any type of human or biological competitive interaction,” explained math teacher Richard Bonanno.

A Deerfield graduate, successful mathematician, and economist, Dr. Fernholz contacted the Academy and offered to bring Economics Professor Gerald Friedman from University of Massachusetts-Amherst to speak to several members of Deerfield’s faculty. This is the first time Deerfield has developed a formal relationship with UMass.

Dr. Friedman lectured at Tufts University before he became a professor at the University of Massachusetts. He is also an author whose second book on the labor movement was published last year.

Earlier this week, Dr. Fernolz donor dined on campus with the faculty and a small group of students, and then spoke about his specialty in “Robust Statistics.”

Dr. Friedman will have his first on campus, full-day workshop tomorrow, May 21. Currently, all the math department teachers and six teachers from other disciplines have signed up to join this seminar.

“Even though the theory is primarily developed for mathematics, it is a very interdisciplinary topic. The underlying objective of this lecture is to give opportunities to teachers for their own professional development, possibly for future class ideas,” explained Head of School Margarita Curtis.

Mr. Bonanno predicted it will be “an interesting area of investigation for everyone whether he or she teaches math or not” and will “enrich every class and discipline.

The lecture series will also “take advantage of the Koch Center’s state of the art science facility” in an attempt to “match the academic program with the magnificent building,” said Ms. Curtis.

The math department is considering developing the game theory lecture series as a senior elective course for next spring once the series has concluded.Until that time, the chance to learn about game theory is only open to the faculty. After the one day workshop, Dr. Friedman will continue to teach the Deerfield faculty throughout next fall and winter. They currently have six or seven more sessions scheduled for next year.