SYSC 452/552: Game Theory

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SYSC 452/552: Game Theory

Game Theory is the study of competition and cooperation among self-interested agents. It provides a theoretical framework for understanding a wide variety of phenomena, from evolutionary dynamics to the division of housework to global politics. Based on extremely general concepts such as players, conflicts, and benefits, the mathematical models of Game Theory apply to a broad range of disciplines, including Economics, Biology, Computer Science, Math, Political Science, Sociology, and Psychology. Emphasis in this course is on understanding the findings and applications of Game Theory rather than its purely technical aspects.

The course begins with basic ideas of the field, such as how to represent and classify different kinds of interactions in terms of archetypal game structures. Special attention is given to those paradoxical situations where individual rationality (or self-interest) leads to a collectively irrational outcome, as in the Prisoner’s Dilemma or the Tragedy of the Commons. Advanced topics might include Mechanism Design, Decision Theory, Evolutionary Psychology, or Auction Theory, depending on student interest.