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Game Theory



[Bsc], GED, ID, PSc, EES, S

Admission requirements

  • Classes of 2013-2016: Numeracy. Whereas high-school mathematics and the contents of the Numeracy course provide sufficient background knowledge for this course, participants should also have a sufficient proficiency and interest in mathematics, and be prepared to amend their math skills where necessary.

Course description

Every interaction between two or more individuals can be considered as a game being played. Thus, everyone of us is daily involved in mating games, auction games, negotiation games, information games, territorial games, etc. Game theory is the field of mathematics that models such interactions and aims to predict their outcomes. It is hard to overestimate its importance in widely different fields, such as economics, politics, finance, sociology, and biology. In recent years game theory has provided significant insights in the dynamics of human-environment interactions, and it continues to deliver valuable contributions to this increasingly important field of study.

In this course we will address classical games such as the Hawk-Dove game, and the Prisoner’s dilemma. These at first sight simple models lead to unexpected results, which greatly enhance our insight in the behaviour of humans as well as other species. Starting from these basic models we will consider generalizations such as dynamical games, where the consequences of choices that are made change in time, and probabilistic games, where outcomes depend on chance. These often have counterintuitive outcomes, as illustrated by the famous ‘Monty Hall problem’.

Learning objectives

After this course students should:

  • understand what game theory is;

  • understand why it is important;

  • know how to apply game theory in different contexts;

  • be able to critically evaluate applications of game theoretic models.

Compulsory textbook

Playing for Real – Coursepack Edition
Ken Binmore 2012
Oxford University Press, ISBN: 978-0-19-992453-0

Make sure you have this book before the course starts. Note that we will be using the coursepack edition, which is NOT the same as the book ‘Playing for Real’ by the same author.