Nav: Home

Not free agents? Could human decisions actually be products of deterministic forces?

December 08, 2016

Decisions are not random. They are a connected network rippling from the past into the future. Is it not commonly accepted that human decision making is the result of free will and is therefore not deterministic? Yet there is an opposing view based on the theory of games that some aspects are deterministic. When this view is extended to include the system dynamics of space and time, an engineering approach to decision-based social structures becomes possible, with potentially profound consequences.

The author's approach to decision processes in this book is distinct from the normal one using Bayesian probability. Geometry, Language and Strategy: The Dynamics of Decision Processes (Volume 2) provides a unified deterministic extension using game theory as the foundation for spatial geometry. Time is incorporated into this foundation in a way consistent with ideas from system dynamics, a well-known approach used to model social and business phenomena. At the mathematical level, the theoretical structure is that used in electrical engineering, electromagnetic theory and gravitational theories, and so has been well-studied. At the application level, the structure reduces to game theory for static behaviors at the equilibrium point, but covers a significantly larger range. The foundation takes local behaviors and merges them into a unified and global theory.

Though the unification of behaviors is technical, the value is the ability to extrapolate local behaviors from a single point in space and time to behaviors for entire social structures and their evolution in time. A consequence, for example, is that competitive behavior, which forms the kernel of game theory, must be joined with distinct codes of conduct: both are needed to understand stable social structures.

The book gives a systematic and self-contained exposition of the foundation and indicates the various consequences with numerical examples. The exposition follows a path similar to engineering disciplines, with many of the same prerequisites. The ideas were first presented in Vol. 1 with examples of harmonic behaviors.

This volume extends the examples to forced harmonic and transient behaviors. It explores in much more depth the role spatial connectivity plays in decision making. One example is how related stocks perform in the market. The volume provides background information for the student that wishes to learn the discipline and apply it to their own problems. In that sense it can be viewed as a textbook on the subject.
This book retails for US$222 / £184 at major bookstores. To know more about the book or to purchase the book, visit

About the Author

Gerald H. Thomas has 10 years of experience in high energy particle physics at CERN, Switzerland, University of Helsinki, Finland and Argonne National Laboratory, USA; and 11 years of experience in Engineering at the Milwaukee School of Engineering, USA. He has also gained 25 years of experience in the corporate world at AT&T Bell Labs (now Nokia Bell Labs), USA, Motorola (Cellular Division), USA, and a successful start-up company in Florida, USA; in project management, software engineering, and senior and executive management. Dr Thomas has worked closely with System Dynamics consultants trained at MIT to help control the delivery and staffing over-runs for a large software project. It was this project that generated the idea that a deterministic theory of decisions could apply not only to software projects, but more generally to any field of human endeavor in which decisions play a significant role. The key was to tie this idea to a theoretical foundation, which his experience in particle physics provided.

About World Scientific Publishing Co.

World Scientific Publishing is a leading independent publisher of books and journals for the scholarly, research, professional and educational communities. The company publishes about 600 books annually and about 130 journals in various fields. World Scientific collaborates with prestigious organizations like the Nobel Foundation, US National Academies Press, as well as its subsidiary, the Imperial College Press, amongst others, to bring high quality academic and professional content to researchers and academics worldwide. To find out more about World Scientific, please visit

For more information, contact Amanda Yun at

World Scientific

Related Decision Making Articles:

Illuminating interactions between decision-making and the environment
Employing a game theory model, University of Pennsylvania researchers demonstrate how strategic decisions influence the environment in which those decisions are made, alterations which in turn influence strategy.
Lung cancer screening decision aid delivered through tobacco quitlines improves informed decision-making
Researchers from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center have shown that a decision aid delivered through tobacco quitlines effectively reaches a screening-eligible population and results in informed decisions about lung cancer screening.
A molecular map of the brain's decision-making area
Researchers at Karolinska Institutet have come one step closer toward understanding how the part of our brain that is central for decision-making and the development of addiction is organized on a molecular level.
Decision-making process becomes visible in the brain
Transparent fish larvae reveal how a decision makes its way through the brain.
Brain: How to optimize decision making?
Our brains are constantly faced with different choices. Why is it so difficult to make up our mind when faced with two or more choices?
How do social networks shape political decision-making?
New research shows that social media's influence on voting goes beyond bots and foreign interference.
What are you looking at? How attention affects decision-making
Scientists using eye-tracking technology have found that what we look at helps guide our decisions when faced with two visible choices, such as snack food options.
Casino lights and sounds encourage risky decision-making
The blinking lights and exciting jingles in casinos may encourage risky decision-making and potentially promote problem gambling behaviour, suggests new research from the University of British Columbia.
Education improves decision-making ability, study finds
A new study led by Hyuncheol Bryant Kim, assistant professor of policy analysis and management at Cornell University, found that education can be leveraged to help enhance an individual's economic decision-making quality or economic rationality.
What is shared decision-making and how does it work for allergists?
A new article published in Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, walks allergists and other health care practitioners through the steps involved in shared decision-making (SDM).
More Decision Making News and Decision Making Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at