I watched Hannah Fry’s programme on game theory last night, and enjoyed it immensely. I’ve been a maths nerd since I did an Open University maths course in the 1970s, but I had actually encountered game theory a short while before then.
It’s the branch of mathematics which deals with strategies of interactions. It has implications for economics, social situations and politics, as well as evolutionary theory and ecology. It links in to probability and statistics, two more mathematical disciplines I’m interested in. That way you can plug in numerical values for outcomes and work out optimal strategies that take account of competition versus cooperation, doves versus hawks, and work out the benefits and costs of specific actions.
It occurred to me while watching the programme that I could possibly write short stories which have these principles underlying them. Real life often has these situations where problems can be solved in one of two ways – or actually one of four ways if two individuals are involved (it’s a 2×2 matrix). Stories have to have a problem, a dilemma, a tension, a conflict, which the writer follows through to a resolution.
Normally when I start to write a story, I don’t know how it’s going to end. This time I’m going to know the ending, and I can work out what strategies the protagonists are going to adopt to achieve their separate goals, but I’m going to be writing it backwards.
Wish me luck.