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Shedding light on El Farol


  • Damien Challet

    (Nomura Centre for Quantative Finance, Mathematical Institute, Oxford University, UK)

  • Matteo Marsili

    (Internation Center for Theoretical Physics, Trieste, Italy)

  • Gabriele Ottino

    (Département de Physique, Université de Fribourg, Switzerland)


We mathematize El Farol bar problem and transform it into a workable model. We find general conditions under which the convergence of the average attendance to the resource level is trivial and does not even require any intelligence on the side of agents. Secondly, specializing to a particular ensemble of continuous strategies leads this problem to 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

  • Damien Challet & Matteo Marsili & Gabriele Ottino, 2004. "Shedding light on El Farol," Game Theory and Information 0406002, EconWPA.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpga:0406002
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    References listed on IDEAS

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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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