Game Theory and Poe’s Detective Stories and Life


Game Theory and Poe’s Detective Stories and Life is the title of a paper I discovered recently on the Internet and thought it might be a good idea to share it with you.

This paper analyzes the discovery of detective story by Edgar Allan Poe and the discovery of game theory by John Von Neumann. The detective stories written by Poe include The Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Mystery of Marie Rogêt, and The Purloined Letter. It had been demonstrated that applying game theory to detective story could contribute to the development of game theory and its ability for advancing economic analysis.

Click HERE to access the paper (pdf.)

6 thoughts on “Game Theory and Poe’s Detective Stories and Life

  1. Although the game theory article went way over my head, its reference to Vidocq was familiar. The man was famous for a lot of things, one of which may be that he was the writer of the first detective story. Indeed, he possibly wrote many of the first detective stories since his autobiographical “Mémoires de Vidocq” in 1828 contained numerous fictions. On the other hand, ghostwriters had their hands in the four volumes, so who actually deserves the credit?

    In contrast, as far as I know, Poe’s locked room in the Rue Morgue legitimately deserves credit as the starting place for that particular genre. What say ye about that, José and Margot?

    • David, I don’t know the answer to your question but I found very interesting the paragraph that reads: what is important about Poe’s discovery of detective story and von Neumann’s discovery of game theory is that, after Poe and von Neumann, detective story and game theory were never lost again. I presume most things don’t come out from scratch, there is always some sort of predecessor.

      • That concept caught my eye, too. Something “never lost again” beats “it was the first” as I see it.

    • David – Interesting question. I’ll admit to not being an expert on the beginnings of detective fiction. However, I do believe that there were detective stories in the Western tradition beginning with Voltaire in the late 18th Century. I agree that Poe’s work was the genesis of what we think of as the detective story. In my very unsophisticated opinion, he took some story threads that had been experimented with and shaped them into what we now think of as a detective story. But I am not an expert.

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