Prices of products are changing by the minute. The pricing algorithms are getting more and more complicated. The price of a soda can in a vending machine can change depending on the temperature outside. Welcome to the world driven by software where you don’t understand what is happening in the background.
The complexity of retail pricing today has driven at least one of Boomerang’s clients into game theory—a branch of mathematics that, it’s safe to say, has seldom found practical use in shopping aisles. Hariharan says, with a smile: “It lets you say, ‘What is the dominant competitor’s reaction to me? And if I know the reaction to me, what is my first, best move?’ Which is the Nash equilibrium.” Yes, that’s John Nash, the eponymous Beautiful Mind, whose brilliant contributions to mathematics now extend to the setting of mop prices.
Where does all this end?