Adverse effects of strategic decisions

A strategic decision is not always desirable. Take, for example, the decision to drive to work. This is such a commonplace decision, but it causes problems because traffic jams block roads. Researcher Guido Schäfer of the Centre for Mathematics and Computer Sciences (CWI), is trying to make sense of such decisions using mathematical models, which can then be used to deal with the negative effects such as traffic jams.

Guido Schäfer - Foto: Jan Willem Steenmeijer

One application for which Schäfer's research is extremely relevant is in navigation systems. “There's still a vast gap between the worlds of research and business; they make much too little use of one another,” says Schäfer. “Businesses often have a different objective and speak a different language. Amsterdam Science Park is an effective link: it helps different disciplines, areas of expertise and companies come closer together.”

"There's still a vast gap between the worlds of research and business"

Schäfer's research is about the algorithmic game theory, which only became in vogue in the nineteen-nineties. This theory is at the intersection of microeconomics, computer science and mathematics, and Schäfer's field of research focuses on the negative effects that occur when people make strategic decisions to reach their goals. “This concerns wide-scale, complex situations from daily life in which independent individuals make strategic decisions. Like traffic jams. We translate these into abstract models, so that we can better understand the impact and find solutions,” explains Schäfer.