About the Course
This course is an introduction to game theory and strategic thinking. Ideas such as dominance, backward induction, Nash equilibrium, evolutionary stability, commitment, credibility, asymmetric information, adverse selection, and signaling are discussed and applied to games played in class and to examples drawn from economics, politics, the movies, and elsewhere.View class sessions »
This Yale College course, taught on campus twice per week for 75 minutes, was recorded for Open Yale Courses in Fall 2007.
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About Professor Ben Polak
Ben Polak is Professor of Economics and Management in the Department of Economics and the School of Management at Yale University. He received his B.A. from Trinity College, Cambridge University, his M.A. from Northwestern University, and his Ph.D. from Harvard University. A specialist in microeconomic theory and economic history, he has published in Economic Letters, Journal of Economic Theory, Journal of Economic History, Journal of Legal Studies, Journal of Theoretical and Institutional Economics, and Econometrica. His current projects include "Generalized Utilitarianism and Harsanyi's Impartial Observer Theorem" and "Mean-Dispersion Preferences."
Ben Polak, Professor of Economics and Management
This course is an introduction to game theory and strategic thinking. Ideas such as dominance, backward induction, Nash equilibrium, evolutionary stability, commitment, credibility, asymmetric information, adverse selection, and signaling are discussed and applied to games played in class and to examples drawn from economics, politics, the movies, and elsewhere.
A. Dixit and B. Nalebuff. Thinking Strategically, Norton 1991
J. Watson. Strategy: An Introduction to Game Theory, Norton 2002
P.K. Dutta. Strategies and Games: Theory And Practice, MIT 1999
Who should take this course?
This course is an introduction to game theory. Introductory microeconomics (115 or equivalent) is required. Intermediate micro (150/2) is not required, but it is recommended. We will use calculus (mostly one variable) in this course. We will also refer to ideas like probability and expectation. Some may prefer to take the course next academic year once they have more background. Students who have already taken Econ 156b should not enroll in this class.
Course Aims and Methods.
Game theory is a way of thinking about strategic situations. One aim of the course is to teach you some strategic considerations to take into account making your choices. A second aim is to predict how other people or organizations behave when they are in strategic settings. We will see that these aims are closely related. We will learn new concepts, methods and terminology. A third aim is to apply these tools to settings from economics and from elsewhere. The course will emphasize examples. We will also play several games in class.
Outline and Reading.
Most of the reading for this course comes from the first ten chapters of Dutta or from the first two parts of Watson. There will be a reading packet for weeks 6-7. The readings are not compulsory, but they will help back up the class material.
Problem sets: 30%
Midterm examination: 30%
Final examination: 40%
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Join a Study Group
Through a pilot arrangement with Open Yale Courses, OpenStudy offers tools to participate in online study groups for a selection of Open Yale Courses, including ECON 159. If you wish to participate in one of these study groups, you will need to register for a free account with OpenStudy.View study group
Course Books and Other Related Titles
Yale University Press offers a 10% discount on the books used in ECON 159 that it publishes, as well as on other related titles. A portion of the proceeds from your purchases will be donated for the ongoing support and development of the Open Yale Courses program.View the catalog for this course