Robert Aumann, a professor at Hebrew University in Israel, is a genius; like eight Israelis before him, he has won a Nobel Prize. Professor Aumann received the 2005 Nobel Prize in Economics for his pioneering work in Game Theory, a complicated science of strategy that attempts to determine what actions players should take to secure the best outcome for themselves. Game Theory can be applied to a variety of competitive arenas, including political negotiations, criminal interrogations, and marketing decisions--for example, helping executives at Apple Computer, Inc. decide when to launch and how to price its newest iPod.
True to its name, however, Game Theory also can help players win trivial games, such as poker, odds and evens, or rock-paper-scissors. In fact, writers for the hit TV cartoon "The Simpsons" once scripted a hilarious scene around one of Game Theory's fundamental principles, unpredictability:
Lisa: Look, there's only one way to settle this. Rock-paper-scissors.
Lisa's brain: Poor predictable Bart. Always takes "rock."
Bart's brain: Good ol' "rock." Nuthin' beats that!
When the Nobel Committee notified him of the award, Aumann--a religious Jew--displayed true humility. "This prize is not just for me," he said. "The school we have developed here in Israel in the field of Game Theory is the true deserving winner of this award. We have turned Israel into an empire in this field."