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Well-Known Domains

Just the other day I stumbled across the online version of Encyclopædia Britannica specifically, across an excellent article on game theory. It contains pretty much everything I tried to present in my own little essays on game theory and the prisoner's dilemma, plus lots more, including an explanation of Nash equilibria, which I'd heard about but never tracked down.

It even contains referends for works and actors, much like the ones I've been creating. As an example, I picked out a sample referend that corresponds to Theory of Games and Economic Behavior.

All this naturally made me wonder why I'd bothered to write my own essays.

To put it another way, I said in Self-Representation that I didn't plan to write essays about anything that fell into a well-known domain of knowledge, and yet I've written a number of essays on exactly such topics. (What Is Lambda? is another good example.)

So, why do I write these essays, instead of referring to existing work? When I asked myself that question, I immediately started to make up a bunch of reasons, but soon realized that I was just rationalizing, trying to justify something I'd done without thinking.

I do have a good motive for writing the essays, though. Sometimes I find myself making use of a good, simple concept that I don't think is common knowledge, and I want to be able to refer to an explanation of it that is short and to the point. In the future I'll just have to consider whether writing my own essay is the best way of achieving that goal.


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@ January (2001)