A nash equilibrium for a game is a set of actions from which no agent can unilaterally profitably deviate (Osborne & Rubinstein, 1994, p. 14).
Game theory is supposed to explain why things happen:
‘Many events and outcomes prompt us to ask: Why did that happen? [...]
For example, cutthroat competition in business is the result of the rivals
being trapped in a prisoners’ dilemma’ (Dixit, Skeath, & Reiley, 2014, p. 36).
This section introduces two notions that are involved in
giving such explanations, dominance and Nash equilibrium.
If you understand these notions and can apply them,
you can do game theory.
A Nash equilibrium for a game
is a set of actions (sometimes called a ‘strategy’)
from which no agent can unilaterally profitably deviate.
‘equilibrium [...] simply means that each player is using the strategy
that is the best response to the strategies of the other players’
(Dixit et al., 2014, pp. 32--3)
Although not covered in this section, there is some interesting research
on other ways of specifying a ‘best response’ (Misyak & Chater, 2014; Misyak & Chater, 2014).
Why might you want to do so?
Potential motives arise in Applications and Limits of Game Theory
and What Is Team Reasoning?.
Ask a Question
Your question will normally be answered in the question
session of the next lecture.
More information about asking questions.
: An action (or strategy) strictly dominates another if it ensures better outcomes for its player no matter what other players choose. (See also weak dominance.)
: This term is used for any version of the theory based on the ideas of Neumann et al. (1953) and presented in any of the standard textbooks including. Hargreaves-Heap & Varoufakis (2004); Osborne & Rubinstein (1994); Tadelis (2013); Rasmusen (2007).
: a profile of actions (sometimes called a ‘strategy’) from which no agent can unilaterally profitably deviate.
: ‘Games in which joint-action agreements are enforceable are called cooperative games; those in which such enforcement is not possible, and individual participants must be allowed to act in their own interests, are called noncooperative games’ (Dixit et al., 2014, p. 26).
: In game theory, one action strictly dominates another action if the first action guarantees its player higher payoffs than the second action regardless of what other players choose to do. (See Definition 59.2 in Osborne & Rubinstein, 1994, p. 59 for a more general definition.)
: In game theory, one action weakly dominates another action if the first action guarantees its player payoffs at least as good as the other action and potentially better than it regardless of what other players choose to do. (Contrast strict dominance.)
Dixit, A., Skeath, S., & Reiley, D. (2014). Games of strategy
. New York: W. W. Norton; Company.
Hargreaves-Heap, S., & Varoufakis, Y. (2004). Game theory: A critical introduction
. London: Routledge. Retrieved from http://webcat.warwick.ac.uk/record=b2587142~S1
Misyak, J. B., & Chater, N. (2014). Virtual bargaining: A theory of social decision-making. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
(1655), 20130487. https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2013.0487
Neumann, J. von, Morgenstern, O., Rubinstein, A., & Kuhn, H. W. (1953). Theory of Games and Economic Behavior
. Princeton, N.J. ; Woodstock: Princeton University Press.
Osborne, M. J., & Rubinstein, A. (1994). A course in game theory
. MIT press.
Rasmusen, E. (2007). Games and information: An introduction to game theory
(4th ed). Malden, MA ; Oxford: Blackwell Pub.
Tadelis, S. (2013). Game theory: An introduction
. Princeton: Princeton University Press.