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Game theory is the study of mathematical models of strategic interactions among rational agents. It has applications in many fields of social science, used extensively in economics as well as in logic, systems science and computer science. Traditional game theory addressed two-person zero-sum games, in which a participant's gains or losses are exactly balanced by the losses and gains of the other participant. In the 21st century, game theory applies to a wider range of behavioral relations, and it is now an umbrella term for the science of logical decision making in humans, animals, as well as computers.
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Modern game theory began with the idea of mixed-strategy equilibria in two-person zero-sum game and its proof by John von Neumann. Von Neumann's original proof used the Brouwer fixed-point theorem on continuous mappings into compact convex sets, which became a standard method in game theory and mathematical economics. His paper was followed by Theory of Games and Economic Behavior (1944), co-written with Oskar Morgenstern, which considered cooperative games of several players. The second edition provided an axiomatic theory of expected utility, which allowed mathematical statisticians and economists to treat decision-making under uncertainty.
Game theory was developed extensively in the 1950s, and was explicitly applied to evolution in the 1970s, although similar developments go back at least as far as the 1930s. Game theory has been widely recognized as an important tool in many fields. John Maynard Smith was awarded the Crafoord Prize for his application of evolutionary game theory in 1999, and fifteen game theorists have won the Nobel Prize in economics as of 2020, including most recently Paul Milgrom and Robert B. Wilson.
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