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Professor Vartiainen: International cooperation is the pledge of well-being of the modern society

On the 26th and 27th of November the professor Hannu Vartiainen (University of Helsinki) gave a lecture on "Covering in tournaments" to the students of Higher School of Economics. In his interview specially for International Laboratory of Decision Choice and Analysis the professor shared his secrets of success, formula of  making the best decisions and expressed his thoughts about the most important things in our days.

Complexity of decision-making and regrets

- The search for the right solution has always been a great challenge not only in science but also in the everyday life. In this respect, the general goal is to try to get the idea of the sequence of decision-making and to answer the question: how we come to the solution when the problem is very difficult. The individual faces the decision-making procedure every day, but very seldom analyzes his/her actions. For instance, we plan choose a banana, but then when we realize that banana is good thing, hung on, there is an apple, why don’t I rather get an apple, and we choose an apple, but when we eat the apple, hung on, there is an orange, why should I rather choose the orange? This can continue for a long time. Than I can choose the banana again. The question is that there are always this regrets.

Instability of preferences and search for a compromise

- In some respect, one can say that the problem of decision-making complicated by the fact that our economy is unstable and is constantly fluctuating. Our preferences are something temporary and something unstable. Sometimes it is impossible to put all alternatives into the order: there is the best alternative, there is second best alternative, there is third and so on. This relates not only to the procedure of the personal decision-making but also to the social decisions. Sometimes it is necessary to make a difficult compromise decisions and it is often very difficult to reach a suitable compromise.

Philosophy, free will

- One can say that generally, the problem of decision-making closely intertwines with issues of philosophy, as well as touches upon the problem of free will of the individual. The primary goal here is to start from the very beginning and to compose a certain structure. To try to understand and analyze the possible consequences of the decision-making, which procedure would be the best, stages of decision-making, dependence of the response on personal preferences, etc.

Importance of cooperation and labour division

- In my opinion, our world is one interconnected space. Creation of barriers and obstacles between the states will not benefit to anyone. This is harmful as for the state as a whole and for each of its citizen. Therefore, it is very important to realize that the development and prosperity of the state requires the cooperation and interaction of countries, as well as the division of labor.

The competition is not the key thing. Division of labor is the key to society to grow. Not competition, but cooperation is important in modern society. All kinds of cooperative actions can really dictate our wellbeing. Therefore, it is not a good strategy from my side to harm you, because thru this lake of cooperation I harm myself.

Success and fatal mistakes in the scientific community  

- I have always believed that in order to succeed you do not have to be the smartest and the strongest person; the main thing is always follow your aspirations and goals. You should set a clear goal and constantly move towards it. I believe that fanatical striving for success is the worst feature that scientist can have, and the most destructive tendency for the scientific community as a whole. So being success driven is one of the worth thing that academic person could have, and most disturbing tendency in academia. Don’t think about success, don’t compare yourself with other students. Be yourself.

You should simply follow your curiosity, find what you really interested in, find something unique in yourself and be persistence. My advice to everyone: be curious, be outside the box, put no barriers, be ambitious and persistence.

HSE and international relations

- In my opinion, Faculty members of HSE are outstanding and definitely of highest international caliber. My only humble and sincere advice for them - and the academia in Russia in general - is to entertain international relations as keenly as possible (this visit of mine is a very good example of productive international cooperation). Science is a shared venture also the dimension of human activity whose importance all can agree. It truly unites people all around the world. What could be more important these days.