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Ulric B. and Evelyn L. Bray Social Sciences Seminar

Wednesday, May 5, 2021
12:00pm to 1:00pm
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Rational Anabolic Persuasion
Ran Spiegler, Professor of Economics, Tel Aviv University & University College London,

Abstract: We present a model of optimal training of a rational, sluggish agent. A trainer commits to a discrete-time, finite-state Markov process that governs the evolution of training intensity. Subsequently, the agent monitors the state and adjusts his capacity at every period. Adjustments are incremental: the agent's capacity can only change by one unit at a time. The trainer's objective is to maximize the agent's capacity - evaluated according to its lowest value under the invariant distribution - subject to an upper bound on average training intensity. We characterize the trainer's optimal policy, and show how stochastic, time-varying training intensity can dramatically increase the long-run capacity of a rational, sluggish agent. We relate our theoretical findings to "periodization" training techniques in exercise physiology.

Written with Kfir Eliaz.

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For more information, please contact Letty Diaz by email at [email protected].