Cover: On Games of Survival

On Games of Survival

Published 1956

by John Willard Milnor, Lloyd S. Shapley


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In a game of survival, two players with limited resources play a zero-sum game repeatedly until one of them is ruined. The solution of the survival game gives one a measure of the value of resources in terms of survival probabilities. In this paper the zero-sum game is expressed as a finite matrix, but with (possibly) incommensurable entries; hence the number of different distributions of resources that can occur during a single play may be infinite. The existence of a value and optimal strategies is proved, using the theory of semi-martingales. A simple approximation to the solution is described, and several examples are discussed.

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