Playing for Real: A Text on Game Theory (Coursepack ed)

ISBN : 9780199924530

Ken Binmore
408 Pages
188 x 251 mm
Pub date
Jan 2013
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Playing for Real is a problem-based textbook on game theory that has been widely used at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The Coursepack Edition will be particularly useful for teachers new to the subject. It contains only the material necessary for a course of ten, two-hour lectures plus problem classes and comes with a disk of teaching aids including pdf files of the author's own lecture presentations together with two series of weekly exercise sets with answers and two sample final exams with answers. There are at least three questions a game theory book might answer: What is game theory about? How is game theory applied? Why is game theory right? Playing for Real is perhaps the only book that attempts to answer all three questions without getting heavily mathematical. Its many problems and examples are an integral part of its approach. Just as athletes take pleasure in training their bodies, there is much satisfaction to be found in training one's mind to think in a way that is simultaneously rational and creative. With all of its puzzles and paradoxes, game theory provides a magnificent mental gymnasium for this purpose. It is the author's hope that exercising on the equipment provided by this coursepack edition of Playing for Real will bring the reader the same kind of pleasure that it has brought to so many other students.


Lecture 1: Getting Locked In
In this introductory lecture, a famous game called the Prisoners' Dilemma is
introduced and used to illustrate how game theory can be used to clarify a
variety of strategic problems. The idea of a Nash equilibrium makes its first
Lecture 2: Backing Up
This chapter starts to explain how one can specify the rules of a game by
introducing the idea of a game tree. We learn how some games can be solved
by backward induction.
Lecture 3: Taking Chances
Chance moves are introduced. Bayes rule for updating conditional probabilities
appears for the first time.
Lecture 4: Accounting for Tastes
We learn that a rational player in a risky situation will behave as though maximizing
the expected value of a Von Neumann and Morgenstern utility function.
Lecture 5: Planning Ahead
The ideas of an extensive and strategic form of a game are consolidated. We
learn the mechanics of successively deleting dominated strategies.
Lecture 6: Mixing Things Up
Rational players will sometimes need to randomoize their strategy choice to
keep their opponents guessing. This chapter explains how to work with such
mixed strategies.
Lecture 7: Buying Cheap and Selling Dear
This chapter is an introduction to the use of game theory in economics. Students
of economics will find most topics are treated from a different angle than
they have probably seem before.
Lecture 8: Repeating Yourself
Most of the games we play in real life are repeated over and over again. This
makes a big difference to how they get played.
Lecture 9: Getting Together
This chapter applies game theory to bargaining.
Lecture 10: Knowing What to Believe
One of the big successes of game theory lies in its ability to handle some
situations in which players have good reason to conceal information from each
Lecture 11: Taking Charge
This lecture is an optional extra about auctions and mechanism design. It can
serve as a possible substitute for Lecture 8 or 9.

About the author: 

Ken Binmore is a mathematician-turned-economist who has devoted his life to the theory of games and its applications in economics, evolutionary biology, psychology, and moral philosophy. He is well known for his part in designing the telecom auction that raised $35 billion for the British taxpayer, but his major research contributions are to the theory of bargaining and its testing in the laboratory. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is the author of 12 books and some 90 research papers. He is Emeritus Professor of Economics at University College London.

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