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TV Game Shows

  • John HaighEmail author
Chapter

Abstract

It may surprise many people how often mathematical ideas arise in popular TV game shows, either in pointing the way towards good tactics, or simply adding to the viewer’s enjoyment. The general idea of the Utility of a sum of money, rather than its actual amount, has a strong influence on whether a contestant will play safe, or take a riskier but potentially more rewarding path. We look at (of course) “Monty Hall’s” game, but also its extension to more then three boxes; maths comes up in “The Price is Right”, both in making sensible guesses at the value of prizes, and in the final part, when three contestants spin a giant wheel, seeking the largest score from one or two spins without going over the score 100. Newer games such as “Pointless” and “Two Tribes” throw up subtle but interesting maths—how really unlucky could a contestant be, or how a game could be made fairer to all players. Utility can explain many actions in the “Million Pound Drop”, “Deal or No Deal”, and “Who wants to be a Millionaire?”, and we consider at what stage contestants in “The Weakest Link” should bank the accumulated funds. The idea of Backwards Induction, applied to the short-lived “The Colour of Money”, proves that there was some optimal strategy at all stages of the game. Several formats have used variations on the well-known “Prisoner’s Dilemma” to split, or share, a prize. Teams of different sizes might arise in some formats, (in pub quizzes, can we find a good handicapping system to use?).

Keywords

Correct Answer Final Round Large Team Golden Ball Original Choice 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

References

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of SussexBrightonUK

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