The St. Petersburg Paradox: A Fresh Algorithmic Perspective


  • Ardavan S. Nobandegani McGill University
  • Thomas R. Shultz McGill University



The St. Petersburg paradox is a centuries-old puzzle concerning a lottery with infinite expected payoff on which people are only willing to pay a small amount to play. Despite many attempts and several proposals, no generally-accepted resolution is yet at hand. In a recent paper, we show that this paradox can be understood in terms of the mind optimally using its limited computational resources (Nobandegani et al. 2019). Specifically, we show that the St. Petersburg paradox can be accounted for by a variant of normative expected-utility valuation which acknowledges cognitive limitations: sample-based expected utility (Nobandegani et al. 2018). SbEU provides a unified, algorithmic explanation of major experimental findings on this paradox. We conclude by discussing the implications of our work for algorithmically understanding human cognition and for developing human-like artificial intelligence.




How to Cite

Nobandegani, A. S., & Shultz, T. R. (2020). The St. Petersburg Paradox: A Fresh Algorithmic Perspective. Proceedings of the AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, 34(09), 13689-13692.