Maximin Principle According to John von Neumann

What is the Maximin principle according to John von Neumann?

The Maximin principle can be used to optimize a decision under worst-case assumptions.

One can achieve a maximin decision by considering for each of one’s possible decision options the constellation that leads to the worst payoff in each case. These are the worst cases. Subsequently, one decides among these worst possible constellations for the decision option for which the worst payoff is relatively the highest.

Use cases for the Maximin rule according to John von Neumann

Der Charme des Maximin-Prinzips liegt darin, dass die Auswahl der Maximin-Strategie anhand der Präferenzfolge durchgeführt werden kann; absolute Werte sind nicht erforderlich. Das macht das Maximin-Prinzip für die Unternehmenspraxis relevant und gut handhabbar.

Example: The Maximin principle according to John von Neumann is useful when it is already clear that one cannot win. By applying the Maximin principle, the best options can be selected at least for the worst case, which is expected to occur. These considerations are not usually made in practice, but they can help to mitigate the consequences.

If there are no indications of concrete probabilities of occurrence for alternative scenarios, the Laplace principle can be applied.


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