Schelling`s Meeting Place Problem and Paris
Russell Degnan

Discussion being what they are, a post by John Quiggin on Thursday related to game theory, diverged the next day into a discussion on Schelling's meeting place problem. Stated simply:

"You are told to meet someone in a city (New York?) on a particular day, but not told a time or a place. They are told the same information. Where and when do you go?"

A fascinating problem, much loved by theorists, but so much more fascinating when you actually have to solve it yourself.

I came across it in Paris. A friend of mine from Phoenix, Arizona was travelling on a tour through Europe. We had met once before, but details of what she looked like were a little bit hazy. I was also travelling, but slower, and without purpose. She was to be in Paris on the 5th October, and so we agreed to meet up on that day; place and time to be decided when we'd know, but probably in the afternoon. I arrived on th 2nd, and emailed her a contact number for the hostel I was at.

On the 4th, when I should have been in my room waiting for a phone call I was talking to some other fellow travellers. I missed the call, but a message and number was left. However, when I called the following morning she had gone.

Hence the meeting place problem. I resolved to check my email later in the morning, but hadn't managed it by the time I found her.

I won't tell you where and when directly. The answer is available on Stacy's old diary here. Needless to say, empirical evidence would suggest that Schelling was right.*

* Strictly speaking this isn't a correct comparison, because only one of us was looking, and merely happened to guess right, but the guess did conform to what Schelling suggested was the best guess.

Days Spent Away 15th October, 2005 12:27:59   [#] 


I have always liked the concept of chance encounters and meetings in New York at the top of the Empire State Building (think 'An Affair to Remember' with Deborah Kerr & Cary Grant or 'Sleepless in Seattle' with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks). On Friday night I watched 'Happenstance' with Audrey Tatou - a more gritty (& realistic) version of 'Amelie' that she made in the same year (but had little success in the box office). This looks at the Butterfly Effect, superstition and fate. It's not a brilliant film, but the ideas are interesting to ponder when you are waiting at the finish line of a bike race and the person you are waiting for has crossed the line from a different direction, so you missed the moment!
BridgeGirl  17th October, 2005 09:58:35  

Make him do it all again
It's only fair.
Russ  17th October, 2005 10:24:40