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Reinhard Selten

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5 Oct 1930

Breslau, Germany (now Wroclaw, Poland)

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Reinhard Selten was awarded a Master's degree in mathematics from the Johann- Wolfgang- Goethe- University in Frankfurt in 1957. For 10 years he worked as an assistant in Frankfurt University, being awarded his doctorate from Frankfurt in 1961.

After spending a year visiting the University of California, Berkeley he submitted his Habilitationsschrift in economics to Frankfurt University, the award being made in 1968.

In 1969 Selten was appointed to a chair of economics at the Free University in Berlin. Then, in 1972 he moved to the Institute for Mathematical Economics of the University of Bielefeld. After twelve years in Bielefeld he moved to a chair at the University of Bonn.

In the late 1940s he became interested in game theory . In 1965 he published important work on distinguishing between reasonable and unreasonable decisions in predicting the outcome of games. For his work in game theory Selten was, jointly with Nash , awarded the 1994 Nobel Prize in Economic Science

for their pioneering analysis of equilibria in the theory of non-cooperative games.

The respective contributions of Nash and Selten are as follows. Nash divided game theory into two parts, cooperative games, in which binding agreements can be made, and non-cooperative games, where binding agreements are not possible. Nash made a significant contribution with his equilibrium concept for non-cooperative games. It is now called Nash equilibrium. Selten worked on this concept and he refined the Nash equilibrium concept for analysing dynamic strategic interaction.

Selten has also applied his refined version of these concepts to other problems such as analysing competition when there are only a small number of sellers.

Source:School of Mathematics and Statistics University of St Andrews, Scotland