A branch of mathematics, operations research and
economics, that analyzes interactions with formalized
incentive structures ("games"). The predicted
and actual behavior of individuals in these games
as well as optimal strategies are studied. Seemingly
different types of interactions can be characterized
as having similar incentive structures, thus being
examples of a particular "game."
Biologists have used game theory to understand and
predict certain outcomes of evolution, such as the
concept of evolutionarily stable strategy introduced
by John Maynard Smith in his essay Game Theory and
the Evolution of Fighting.
John Maynard Smith applied the zero-sum contests
and win-win evaluation schemes from game theory
to show that competition among males of a species
would not tend to be lethal, but would have limited
actual fighting and a large quantity of posturing
and other non-aggressive display behaviour. This
game-theoretic explanation has been largely accepted
by theorists and other biologists in the field.
In 1982, his book Evolution and the Theory of Games
explained the application of game theory to biological
science. This book explained how evolutionarily
stable strategy is relevant to the field.