Monthly Archives: December 2014

Game Theory—Final

As my math independent research draws to a close, I start to ponder how I can tailor the information I learned through my research to a large audience with no math or economics background. Even though I have learned a variety of methods of payoff calculation, I want to use the most basic model to explain what I have learned, especially on how game theory can differ from the reality.

A month ago, I did a mini-research on Westtown Dining Hall’s seating arrangement. The attached picture is an expected payoff model.

1This graph can be interpreted as depicting the highest theoretical payoff is reached when a balanced amount of people from different ethnicities sitting at a table. However, if a table is filled with people from the same ethnicity, the payoff will only be half of the payoff when the table has people from different cultural backgrounds. This is because people can benefit more from cross-culture talks and making new friends. What I am confused about is how the theoretical payoff differs from the reality. Do people want to have cross-culture talk and to make new friends? Therefore, I wrote a survey recently and hope to find out how different reality is from theory.

The form below is a small survey that I am going to hand out:


Independent Research on Westtown Dining Hall Policy

Please circle the choices below:

  1. Which one would you prefer?

Choosing your own seat                      Being randomly assigned to a seat

  1. If you are randomly placed to a table, please select your anticipated degree of comfort with your situation:

(0-dislike 0.5-indifferent 1-prefer)

0          0.25     0.5       0.75     1

  1. If you are allowed to sit at a table of your choice, please select your anticipated degree of comfort with your situation:

(0-dislike 0.5-indifferent 1-prefer)

0          0.25     0.5       0.75     1

Thank you for your time!



The survey above will allow me to draw a graph and to compare reality with theory. Even though the result might not be accurate because of the limited sample size, it will be interesting to see how large the deviation is from the theoretical graph.

2As T.Elson suggested, I will then be able to analyze whether we should randomize students or allow students to sit with people with whom they like to sit. Ideally, students have to be objective and should not choose an answer based on their preferences but on their judgments of the situation. During the research, I will try my best to force my sample to be but there is no way that I can control their objectivity. Therefore, by conducting a research, I will probably be able to figure out students’ preference on this topic. One thing I can draw from students’ responses is whether students prefer to stay in their comfort zones or to reach out.

Despite all the math and graphs, it remains an interesting topic to discuss. Do we want to force students to gain more benefit from their experiences? Or should we just let students make their own decisions and stay within their comfort zones. Should we always maximize the payoff of students’ experiences or should we give them some personal room for freedom and choices? Do personal freedom included in the payoff of students’ experiences? In the end, we should probably reconsider the definition of payoff: what is included and what is not.



Here are some Game Theory Websites and articles that I have been reading, and they all shed lights on my topics:, How to Make a Game, Game Theory and the Real World.


Work Cited

“Game Theory.” Jokatimes. Jokatimes, n.d. Web. 11 Dec. 2014. <;.

Music in the Stars – How To End a Research Project in 30 Days – Anne Katherine

Wrapping up a research project is harder than you my imagine. There is the letting go aspect, being  able to come to terms with what you have and allow that to be good enough, the emotional side, the melancholy feeling laying your work down in the archives of your computer after months or even years of hard work, and finally the joyful but hectic stretch to the finish line.

Continue reading

Updates & Struggles

These past few weeks have been rocky. I’ve been caught up in the whirlwind of voices and emotion surrounding the non-indictments of officers in the Eric Garner and Mike Brown cases, and simultaneously bogged down in my college application stress–two issues from what seem to be two totally different worlds.  Over these few weeks, I’ve actually come to realize that one intersection of academics and social justice is the student.  Throughout history, students from all walks of life have frequently stood at the forefronts of movements for change in a multitude of areas.  Students initiated the sit-in’s of the 50’s-60’s, and –from Philly to NYC to Denver to Berkeley –continue to be a powerful presence in the ongoing protests today. This is fascinating when you consider the fact that people who might have protested in their youth could end up as the people being protested–and that those people, such as the beats, who in their time were were hailed for progressive visions, could be considered bigoted from a modern perspective. Past and present always seem to reconcile in ways that surpass expectations.

Now that I’m done waxing philosophical:
part of what I’ve been working on/struggling with has been an outline for the paper that I intend to write, after drawing together certain ideas expressed on this blog, and those cultivated outside of it. It’s been tricky to discern what information I will need to include from the information that I’m super excited about including.
The outlining business? It is slow. Like a sloth with a limp. And equally as frustrating.
But hopefully, my own ideas & message will carry me through without much damage. The hard part is nailing them down to create something cohesive.

Priorities, Priorities, Priorities -Lauren

Oil paint is one of my favorite mediums to work with, simply because of its lucidity. Oil responds to the artist’s touch; it is malleable, unfixed, and an oil painting can never really be finished. I’ve worked hard to transition from the rigidity of printmaking, and even drawing, into the fluidity of oil painting. Over break, I looked into a few artists with Behance who had stylistic and mark-making qualities like those I aspire to have in my own work. Continue reading