A blog about economics, politics and the random interests of forty-something professors
April 5, 2012 in Uncategorized | Tags: game theory, sport, vapor mill
Bicycle “sprints.” This is worth 6 minutes of your time.
Thanks to Josh Knox for the link.
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April 5, 2012 at 1:43 pm
But that is the equilibrium. This happens in all of these races.
April 5, 2012 at 1:50 pm
Yes, the question is can you model this? I assume that drafting is the basic strategic element. So consider a race where the guy behind can go faster with less effort than the guy in front. Is this the equilibrium of that race? How much of a drafting effect do you need for stopping to be an optimal strategy? etc.
Also: file under “Against Artificial Rules:” you can’t go backward.
April 5, 2012 at 1:53 pm
As an aside, each series of Survivor has seen changes in tactics, with the broader “tribal” good being sacrificed at earlier and earlier stages of the game in favour of small and firm alliances that can hold together to the end. The producers apparently have a hard time trying to find ways to disturb these alliances each season. There has clearly been some learning of game theoretic results by the participants.
Not that I watch it of course. It’s just what I hear :)
April 5, 2012 at 7:22 pm
Nicest video ever seen on YouTube
April 5, 2012 at 7:37 pm
just a little info to add….there are two main effects: drafting and surprise. surprise is important because of drafting. the drafting effect has to be large enough such that the leading rider can’t simply exploit his lead by initiating an early sprint. in a two man race the magnitude of the drafting effect is on the order of 25% (measured in power reduction to match speed). surprise is important in that the trailing rider often uses a strategy of initiating a sprint if he feels he can have a large enough speed differential at the moment his sprint is noticed by the leading rider. that is why he lets a gap open up relative to the leading rider.
April 6, 2012 at 3:47 pm
Interesting stuff. Why doesn’t somebody sprint the entire way (all three rounds)? If they get enough of a gap then there would not be much draft. Or they could sprint and stop and so on. Why do they sprint only at the end?
April 8, 2012 at 12:48 pm
Also, it seems important that the helmets don’t have “rearview mirrors”. Otherwise you could easily see when the rider behind you begins to sprint. Is the absence of these mirrors enforced by rule?
April 9, 2012 at 12:18 am
If you have a smart and ambitious undergrad, this may (potentially) make for a fantastic thesis, in the best case publishable in a top journal. I suspect when they conducted this “sprint” thing for the very fist time, it was actually a sprint, and it only gradually evolved to what you see in this video. If that is indeed the case, then it means that for a while they were behaving suboptimally, and only converged to this equilibrium over time. So if it is possible to find a string of videos of this event going from the beginning of this event to the one you posted (or perhaps even later), one could write a nice empirical paper documenting learning in this particular game, maybe finding “pivotal” moments (when someone discovers some new trick), etc.
April 9, 2012 at 2:45 am
An article from a few years ago about how roller-derby game play has been evolving. It was traditionally a fast game but some teams realized that they could win by playing in a different slow style (which included skating backwards).
Equilibrium not yet stabilized as of the writing of the article. I don’t know how things have played out since then.
April 12, 2012 at 11:28 am
@ Round: the full on sprint is an extreme physical effort, difficult to sustain for more than a half lap, anything less can be easily caught by a short burst by the following rider, who then rests in the slipstream and recovers. Sprint from the gun is a losing tactic.
April 12, 2012 at 11:31 am
Last thought: they averaged 65 km/hr over the last 200 meters, which is 39 mph. That’s really, really, really fast.
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