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Shedding light on El Farol


  • Challet, Damien
  • Marsili, M
  • Ottino, Gabriele


We mathematize El Farol bar problem and transform it into a workable model. We find general conditions on the predictor space under which the convergence of the average attendance to the resource level does not require any intelligence on the side of the agents. Secondly, specializing to a particular ensemble of continuous strategies yields a model similar to the Minority Game. Statistical physics of disordered systems allows us to derive a complete understanding of the complex behavior of this model, on the basis of its phase diagram.

Suggested Citation

  • Challet, Damien & Marsili, M & Ottino, Gabriele, 2004. "Shedding light on El Farol," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 332(C), pages 469-482.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:phsmap:v:332:y:2004:i:c:p:469-482 DOI: 10.1016/j.physa.2003.06.003

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Tsallis, Constantino & Mendes, RenioS. & Plastino, A.R., 1998. "The role of constraints within generalized nonextensive statistics," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 261(3), pages 534-554.
    2. Naudts, Jan, 2002. "Deformed exponentials and logarithms in generalized thermostatistics," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 316(1), pages 323-334.
    3. Kaniadakis, G., 2001. "Non-linear kinetics underlying generalized statistics," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 296(3), pages 405-425.
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    Cited by:

    1. Challet, Damien, 2008. "Inter-pattern speculation: Beyond minority, majority and $-games," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 85-100, January.
    2. Shu-Heng Chen & Umberto Gostoli, 2017. "Coordination in the El Farol Bar problem: The role of social preferences and social networks," Journal of Economic Interaction and Coordination, Springer;Society for Economic Science with Heterogeneous Interacting Agents, vol. 12(1), pages 59-93, April.
    3. Zozor, S. & Ravier, P. & Buttelli, O., 2005. "On Lempel–Ziv complexity for multidimensional data analysis," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 345(1), pages 285-302.
    4. Lustosa, Bernardo C. & Cajueiro, Daniel O., 2010. "Constrained information minority game: How was the night at El Farol?," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 389(6), pages 1230-1238.
    5. Christina Matzke & Damien Challet, 2008. "Taking a shower in Youth Hostels: risks and delights of heterogeneity," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers bgse1_2008, University of Bonn, Germany.
    6. Shu-Heng Chen & Umberto Gostoli, 2011. "Agent-Based Modeling of the El Farol Bar Problem," ASSRU Discussion Papers 1120, ASSRU - Algorithmic Social Science Research Unit.

    More about this item


    El Farol; Minority Game; Resource level; Biased strategies;

    JEL classification:

    • C7 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory
    • D8 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty


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