A friend reports that a well-known professor of economics at Harvard not only listens to HAH, the show turned up in his midterm exam. The question begins,
1. After listening to WHRB Hillbilly at Harvard, you want to catch the Wednesday Fiddlefest at Club Passim. Because the tables get crowded, you only want to go if less than 60 fiddle enthusiasts are going. You also think that other fiddle enthusiasts think the same. Passim reports the number of persons who attend the Fiddlefest the past three weeks. Strangely about 60 enthusiasts show up almost every Wednesday night. . .
Now to me the obvious solution (if one were both well-healed and callous) would be to reserve seats at an entire table, and hog it for yourself. Unfortunately, I’d have flunked, as the question concerns an arcane (to me) game-theory model called the ‘minority game framework’:
a) Analyze the situation using the minority game framework. What do people use to make decisions in this model?
b) If people randomly decide whether to go or not, will this produce a more or less efficient outcome than if they decide to follow their neighbors and go as a group?
c) How might having data on the number of attendees for the past six months affect the pattern of attendance?
The problem with such models is that of necessity they reduce decision-making to a few variables, and so ignore options which enterprising folks may contrive. I’ll bet the professor doesn’t know that an outfit called Concert Window now allows you to ‘attend’ shows at Passim, and many other places, while sitting at your computer. I saw the Keith and Rooney concert at Passim without leaving my desk, for just $5:
With a little finagling, I could have ported the stream to our 55″ TV and cranked up the speakers—almost like being there. That’s the beauty of an open, free market: innovation. Or, as Ol’ Sinc liked to say, “Necessity is a mother.” /CL
PS I don’t recall a “Wednesday Fiddlefest at Club Passim.” But there might have been one. Passim could do a better job of keeping HAH informed about upcoming shows. . .