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Rage Against the Machines: How Subjects Learn to Play Against Computers

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Author Info

  • Burkhard C. Schipper
  • Jorg Oechssler
  • Albert Kolb

    (Department of Economics, University of California Davis)

Abstract

We use an experiment to explore how subjects learn to play against computers which are programmed to follow one of a number of standard learning algorithms. The learning theories are (unbeknown to subjects) a best response process, fictitious play, imitation, reinforcement learning, and a trial & error process. We test whether subjects try to influence those algorithms to their advantage in a forward-looking way (strategic teaching). We find that strategic teaching occurs frequently and that all learning algorithms are subject to exploitation with the notable exception of imitation. The experiment was conducted, both, on the internet and in the usual laboratory setting. We find some systematic differences, which however can be traced to the different incentives structures rather than the experimental environment.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of California, Davis, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 516.

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Length: 43
Date of creation: 12 Oct 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cda:wpaper:05-16

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Related research

Keywords: learning; fictitious play; imitation; reinforcement; trial & error; strategic teaching; Cournot duopoly; experiments; internet;

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References

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  1. Huck, Steffen & Normann, Hans-Theo & Oechssler, Jorg, 2004. "Two are few and four are many: number effects in experimental oligopolies," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 53(4), pages 435-446, April.
  2. Mathias Drehmann & Joerg Oechssler & Andreas Roider, 2002. "Herding and Contrarian Behavior in Financial Markets - An Internet Experiment," Experimental 0210001, EconWPA.
  3. Burkhard Schipper, 2002. "Imitators and Optimizers in Cournot Oligopoly," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers bgse29_2002, University of Bonn, Germany.
  4. Jose Apesteguia & Steffen Huck & Jorg Oechssler, 2003. "Imitation - Theory and Experimental Evidence," Experimental 0309001, EconWPA.
  5. Vahid, F. & Sarin, R., 2001. "Strategy Similarity and Coordination," Monash Econometrics and Business Statistics Working Papers 8/01, Monash University, Department of Econometrics and Business Statistics.
  6. Roth, Alvin E. & Erev, Ido, 1995. "Learning in extensive-form games: Experimental data and simple dynamic models in the intermediate term," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 164-212.
  7. Daniel Houser & Robert Kurzban, 2002. "Revisiting Kindness and Confusion in Public Goods Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1062-1069, September.
  8. Huck, Steffen & Normann, Hans-Theo & Oechssler, Jorg, 1999. "Learning in Cournot Oligopoly--An Experiment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(454), pages C80-95, March.
  9. McCabe, Kevin & Houser, Daniel & Ryan, Lee & Smith, Vernon & Trouard, Ted, 2001. "A Functional Imaging Study of Cooperation in Two-Person reciprocal Exchange," MPRA Paper 5172, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  10. Shachat, Jason & Swarthout, J. Todd, 2012. "Learning about learning in games through experimental control of strategic interdependence," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 383-402.
  11. Alos-Ferrer, Carlos, 2004. "Cournot versus Walras in dynamic oligopolies with memory," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 193-217, February.
  12. Kirchkamp, Oliver & Nagel, Rosemarie, 2007. "Naive learning and cooperation in network experiments," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 269-292, February.
  13. Kirchkamp, Oliver & Nagel, Rosemarie, 2005. "Learning and cooperation in network experiments," Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications 05-27, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim & Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim.
  14. J.-F. Laslier & R. Topol & B. Walliser, 1999. "A behavioral learning process in games," THEMA Working Papers 99-03, THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise.
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  17. Drew Fudenberg & David K. Levine, 1998. "Learning in Games," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2222, David K. Levine.
  18. Monderer, Dov & Shapley, Lloyd S., 1996. "Potential Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 124-143, May.
  19. Offerman, T.J.S. & Potters, J.J.M. & Sonnemans, J., 2002. "Imitation and belief learning in an oligopoly experiment," Open Access publications from Tilburg University urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-91663, Tilburg University.
  20. Schipper, Burkhard C, 2011. "Strategic control of myopic best reply in repeated games," MPRA Paper 30219, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  21. Roth, Alvin E & Schoumaker, Francoise, 1983. "Expectations and Reputations in Bargaining: An Experimental Study," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(3), pages 362-72, June.
  22. Camerer, Colin F. & Ho, Teck-Hua & Chong, Juin-Kuan, 2002. "Sophisticated Experience-Weighted Attraction Learning and Strategic Teaching in Repeated Games," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 104(1), pages 137-188, May.
  23. Huck, Steffen & Oechssler, Jörg & Normann, Hans-Theo, 1999. "Through trial & error to collusion," SFB 373 Discussion Papers 1999,57, Humboldt University of Berlin, Interdisciplinary Research Project 373: Quantification and Simulation of Economic Processes.
  24. Ellison, Glenn, 1997. "Learning from Personal Experience: One Rational Guy and the Justification of Myopia," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 180-210, May.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Shachat, Jason & Swarthout, J. Todd, 2012. "Learning about learning in games through experimental control of strategic interdependence," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 383-402.
  2. Terracol, Antoine & Vaksmann, Jonathan, 2009. "Dumbing down rational players: Learning and teaching in an experimental game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 70(1-2), pages 54-71, May.
  3. Burkhard Schipper, 2002. "Imitators and Optimizers in Cournot Oligopoly," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers bgse29_2002, University of Bonn, Germany.
  4. repec:fee:wpaper:1101 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. Peter Duersch & Albert Kolb & Jörg Oechssler & Burkhard Schipper, 2010. "Rage against the machines: how subjects play against learning algorithms," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 43(3), pages 407-430, June.
  6. Schipper, Burkhard C, 2011. "Strategic control of myopic best reply in repeated games," MPRA Paper 30219, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Spiliopoulos, Leonidas, 2008. "Humans versus computer algorithms in repeated mixed strategy games," MPRA Paper 6672, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  8. Bigoni, Maria, 2010. "What do you want to know? Information acquisition and learning in experimental Cournot games," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 1-17, March.

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