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

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  • 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.
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  5. Apesteguia, Jose & Huck, Steffen & Oechssler, Jorg, 2007. "Imitation--theory and experimental evidence," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 136(1), pages 217-235, September.
  6. Burkhard Schipper, 2002. "Imitators and Optimizers in Cournot Oligopoly," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers, University of Bonn, Germany bgse29_2002, University of Bonn, Germany.
  7. Shachat, Jason & Swarthout, J. Todd, 2012. "Learning about learning in games through experimental control of strategic interdependence," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 383-402.
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  20. Schipper, Burkhard C, 2011. "Strategic control of myopic best reply in repeated games," MPRA Paper 30219, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  21. Kirchkamp, Oliver & Nagel, Rosemarie, 2007. "Naive learning and cooperation in network experiments," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 269-292, February.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Burkhard Schipper, 2002. "Imitators and Optimizers in Cournot Oligopoly," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers, University of Bonn, Germany bgse29_2002, University of Bonn, Germany.
  2. Antoine Terracol & Jonathan Vaksmann, 2009. "Dumbing down rational players: Learning and teaching in an experimental game," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) hal-00607223, HAL.
  3. Shachat, Jason & Swarthout, J. Todd, 2012. "Learning about learning in games through experimental control of strategic interdependence," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 383-402.
  4. Peter Duersch & Albert Kolb & Jörg Oechssler & Burkhard Schipper, 2010. "Rage against the machines: how subjects play against learning algorithms," Economic Theory, Springer, Springer, vol. 43(3), pages 407-430, June.
  5. Jason Shachat & J. Todd Swarthout & Lijia Wei, 2011. "Man versus Nash An experiment on the self-enforcing nature of mixed strategy equilibrium," Working Papers 1101, Xiamen Unversity, The Wang Yanan Institute for Studies in Economics, Finance and Economics Experimental Laboratory, revised 21 Feb 2011.
  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, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 1-17, March.

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