Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Complex Problem in Game Theory

Alright, ever wise blog audience, solve the following story problem:

1) Due to the semi-strike currently existing in the university, there is one particular class (Class X) regarding whose convening there is a constant state of uncertainty.

2) The professor has stated that he will come every week, but will only give class if enough people show up.

3) Enough seems to be defined as 9+ students. Perhaps 10.
a) Normally, there are 10-12 students present.

4) Most members of the class would prefer that class not take place at all, since then they will not have to come to campus, often in the pouring rain.

5) Once members of the class have arrived, there is some disagreement about whether they would prefer that there be class or not.
a) The class is incredibly boring and most people are anyway only taking to fulfill some requirement.
b) Some members of the class seem to genuinely enjoy it.

6) Nobody wants to miss a class that does take place, since the material will be on the test and they are scarily obsessed with their grades.

7) If enough classes fail to take place, the class may be canceled, which would waste any effort already invested into class attendance.

8) There is a possibility that if the course will be canceled even if all classes take place, either because not enough students have had any attendance or because the semester as a whole will be canceled.

9) The professor, in planning the test, says that he will make every effort to accommodate students that have not been present, but that he has no idea how he will do this.

10) Neither the students among themselves, the professor, nor the university has any power to coordinate things. The only forum in which information is shared and tactics can be discussed is in the classroom itself, the discussion thus limited to people who have chosen to attend. I go to class?


Halfnutcase said...

a) The class is incredibly boring and most people are anyway only taking to fulfill some requirement.
b) Some members of the class seem to genuinely enjoy it.

personaly I find it rather sacreligious to resent comming to an informative class, but on the other hand I find it rather sacreligious for a teacher to decide to teach a class and then refuse to stuff our heads so full of information that we're bursting to overflowing. I also resent teachers who do not cover all material.

but of all of it my fear of missing any information at all would probably keep me comming to class.

So i'm not sure.

Tobie said...

The class is not informative. That is to say, it thinks that it's being a big chiddush, but it merely rehashes all the sources that I have seen either in seminary or in my Hebrew Law class last year. And everybody else with background has seen it before too. And since it's a class theoretically for Talmud majors... everyone should have background.

Halfnutcase said...

I hate those.

like my ed. psych book spent most of the semester on stuff all of us had seen before in general psych.

and like my special ed psych book which spends about 8 out of every 10 pages telling us nothing or entirely irrelevant information.

or my health safety and nutrition course which teaches us basicaly nothing. all year. The text is informative but the class structure is not.

or actualy my intro to education. A "discussion" class. Well we can't have a discussion if we haven't actualy researched the topic! we sit there doing meaningless stuff and i'm bored to tears and would much rather have a lecture or some kind (even if a participitory lecture where the teacher asks pointed questions to students in order to worm info out of them and help them understand and think.

(and the occasional booms and bangs are a plus.)

e-kvetcher said...

Another strike?

Tobie said...

Always another strike. This one is by the tenured professors, asking for more money. Or not being given less money. It's not clear. But it's been going on for over four weeks and it's starting to annoy.

Plus, there's a rumor floating about that rest of the professors are planning to strike as soon as this lot is done. Yeah, I don't get the logic either. But if they cancel the stupid semester, I'm going to be very annoyed. And if they don't cancel the semester but nonetheless I have to retake all of the classes that haven't been going on but also hang about here for the rest of this semester, I will be even annoyeder.

Halfnutcase said...

poor tobie...

have cheer tobie, have cheer.

Irina Tsukerman said...

I'd say if you have contact info of 8-9 other people, (who usually go), and find out whether the majority is coming. If most people who usually go are NOT coming, the safe bet is that the class is probably going to be cancelled.

Tobie said...

But all of those eight are making this same complicated calculation, so that nobody will say with certainty whether or not they are going until they 1) know what everybody else is doing and 2) decide what they would prefer everybody else to do.

Irina Tsukerman said...

My personal opinion would be to go back to sleep, especially if it's a rainy day. But what I would actually DO is get up, complain loudly and to everyone who would or even wouldn't listen, and schlepp to class. Can you guess how many times I've made an hour-long trip to school only to find out that the class has been cancelled? *sigh*

Kate said...

With a big strike going on for so long I ask, do you have anything else better to do besides go?

Tobie said...

my shlep is only around five minutes, making ditching that much less excusable.

And yes, kate, there are always better things to do. that's why G-d invented TV on the internet. ;)

But the update to the story is that the professor secretly had a way to get in touch with half the class the whole time and sent out text messages saying that attendance would be mandatory and we had a class with almost thirty people. Nobody has any idea why he didn't do so earlier.

Halfnutcase said...

maybe he reads your blog?

or maybe isreali inteligence monitors isreali student blogs in order to report this kind of stuff to professors, or perhaps just olim, since olim are given free tuition.


Tobie said...

hnc- in that case... when I said that the class was boring, I secretly meant that it was incredibly fabulous and brilliant and that I really should not be flunked. Really.