Melvin Dresher

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Melvin Dresher


Melvin Dresher, early 1940s
Born(1911-03-13)March 13, 1911
Krasnystaw, Poland
Died June 4, 1992(1992-06-04) (aged 81)
Kern, California
Residence United States
Alma mater Yale University
Known for Prisoner's dilemma
Scientific career
Fields Mathematics
Institutions RAND

Melvin Dresher (Dreszer) (March 13, 1911 – June 4, 1992) was a Polish-born American mathematician, notable for developing, with Merrill Flood, the game theoretical model of cooperation and conflict known as the Prisoner's dilemma while at RAND in 1950 (Albert W. Tucker gave the game its prison-sentence interpretation, and thus the name by which it is known today).

Poland Republic in Central Europe

Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 administrative subdivisions, covering an area of 312,696 square kilometres (120,733 sq mi), and has a largely temperate seasonal climate. With a population of approximately 38.5 million people, Poland is the sixth most populous member state of the European Union. Poland's capital and largest metropolis is Warsaw. Other major cities include Kraków, Łódź, Wrocław, Poznań, Gdańsk, and Szczecin.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Mathematician person with an extensive knowledge of mathematics

A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics in his or her work, typically to solve mathematical problems.

Dresher came to the United States in 1923. He obtained his B.S. from Lehigh University in 1933 and his Ph.D. from Yale University in 1937; the title of his dissertation was "Multi-Groups: A Generalisation of the Notion of Group." Dresher worked as instructor of mathematics, Michigan State College, 1938-1941; statistician, War Production Board, 1941-1944; mathematical physicist, National Defense Research Committee, 1944-1946; professor of mathematics, Catholic University, 1946-1947; research mathematician, RAND, from 1948.

Lehigh University university in Pennsylvania

Lehigh University is a private research university in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. It was established in 1865 by businessman Asa Packer. Its undergraduate programs have been coeducational since the 1971–72 academic year. As of 2019, the university had 5,047 undergraduate students and 1,942 graduate students.

Yale University private research university in New Haven, Connecticut, United States

Yale University is a private Ivy League research university in New Haven, Connecticut. Founded in 1701, it is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the nine Colonial Colleges chartered before the American Revolution.

War Production Board government agency

The War Production Board (WPB) was an agency of the United States government that supervised war production during World War II. President Franklin D. Roosevelt established it in January 1942, with Executive Order 9024. The WPB replaced the Supply Priorities and Allocation Board and the Office of Production Management.

He was the author of several RAND research papers on game theory, and his widely acclaimed The Mathematics of Games of Strategy: Theory and Applications (originally published in 1961 as Games of Strategy: Theory and Applications) continues to be read today.

The Mathematics of Games of Strategy: Theory and Applications by Melvin Dresher Mgs-200.jpg
The Mathematics of Games of Strategy: Theory and Applications by Melvin Dresher

Dresher's research has been referred to and discussed in a variety of published books, including Prisoner's Dilemma by William Poundstone and A Beautiful Mind by Sylvia Nasar.

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The prisoner's dilemma is a standard example of a game analyzed in game theory that shows why two completely rational individuals might not cooperate, even if it appears that it is in their best interests to do so. It was originally framed by Merrill Flood and Melvin Dresher while working at RAND in 1950. Albert W. Tucker formalized the game with prison sentence rewards and named it "prisoner's dilemma", presenting it as follows:

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