March 06, 2006

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Game theory of toilet seats

The push for sciences to prove their relevence to the real world continues apace. Books such as Freakonomics and The Undercover Economist both demonstrate how economic tools can be applied to the real world. Now I've stumbled across a paper by Richard Harter in something called the Science Creative Quarterly, titled a Game Theoretic Approach to the Toilet Seat Problem. Print this and leave on the bathroom door.

posted by Simon on 03.06.06 at 04:56 PM in the Personal category.


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this will be the favorite for Ig Nobel prize for math or economics this year.

posted by: sunbin on 03.07.06 at 12:45 AM [permalink]

I think that game theory is the wrong approach to this problem, which is one of dominance, i.e. who is going to please whom in the bathroom. Normally, John tries to please Martha in order to maintain his place in the same bed with her. Therefore Martha is the dominant figure. If John wants to assert his dominance, he simply leaves the toilet seat up. If John and Martha want to achieve social equality, John should leave the toilet seat down after he used the toilet and Martha would raise it again after she used it.

Although John is less than equal in the bathroom, he is more than equal in the office where he can perform operation #1 in a urinal where there is no seat involved. Women, by their very nature are excluded from using the urinal.

posted by: Grant Callaghan on 03.09.06 at 03:11 AM [permalink]

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