Subject: The Tea Totallers' Dilemma
Date: Thu, 15 Mar 2001 15:55:43 -0500
From: Marc Pickett I 

Dear Game Theory Agent,

Each week either Tea Totaller M or Tea Totaller P goes to buy cookies
for tea.  Due to lack of communication, this sometimes results in The
Tea Totallers' Dilemma.

It works like this: Neither M nor P are sure whether the other is
buying cookies this week.  The utility of having no cookies for tea is
very low (Who comes for just the tea?), but going to the store
involves a cost.  Therefore, M and P must decide whether to buy

Let's look at this from M's perspective: M originally decides to buy
cookies to prevent the event of having no cookies, but M realizes that
P must be thinking the same thing, and therefore P has decided to buy
cookies too.  M then concludes that he doesn't need to buy cookies
because P must already be buying them.  However, if P is following the
same policy, she won't be buying cookies either.  M then decides to
buy cookies...

This process repeats in each of M and P's heads until their respective
stacks overflow.  This is all so that you can enjoy TEA and COOKIES in
the atrium in 5 minutes.

This week's tea is sponsored by Brian Levine, who might have
recommended that M and P resolve their dilemma simply by sending
a few packets back and forth...

    We are, 
    ``The Tea Totallers''
            M & P
UNSUBSCRIBE: Send "unsubscribe social"  to
PROBLEMS: Report to
TO SUBSCRIBE: Send "subscribe social" to