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Unbeatable Imitation

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Author Info

  • Peter Duersch
  • Joerg Oechssler
  • Burkhard Schipper

    (Department of Economics, University of California Davis)

Abstract

We show that for many classes of symmetric two-player games, the simple decision rule ``imitate-if-better'' can hardly be beaten by any strategy. We provide necessary and sufficient conditions for imitation to be unbeatable in the sense that there is no strategy that can exploit imitation as a money pump. In particular, imitation is subject to a money pump if and only if the relative payoff function of the game is of the rock-scissors-paper variety. We also show that a sufficient condition for imitation not being subject to a money pump is that the relative payoff game is a generalized ordinal potential game or a quasiconcave game. Our results apply to many interesting examples of symmetric games including 2 x 2 games, Cournot duopoly, price competition, public goods games, common pool resource games, and minimum effort coordination games.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of California, Davis, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 125.

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Length: 18
Date of creation: 17 Apr 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cda:wpaper:12-5

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Related research

Keywords: Imitate-the-best; learning; symmetric games; relative payoffs; zero-sum games; rock-paper-scissors; finite population ESS; generalized ordinal potential games; quasiconcave games;

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References

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  1. Jose Apesteguia & Steffen Huck & Jörg Oechssler, 2003. "Imitation - Theory and Experimental Evidence," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers bgse20_2003, University of Bonn, Germany, revised Aug 2004.
  2. Peter Duersch & Joerg Oechssler & Burkhard C. Schipper, 2010. "Pure Saddle Points and Symmetric Relative Payoff Games," Working Papers 104, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  3. Jose Apesteguia & Steffen Huck & Jörg Oechssler & Simon Weidenholzer, 2007. "Imitation and the Evolution of Walrasian Behavior: Theoretically Fragile but Behaviorally Robust," Working Papers 0461, University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics, revised Nov 2007.
  4. Burkhard Schipper, 2002. "Imitators and Optimizers in Cournot Oligopoly," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers bgse29_2002, University of Bonn, Germany.
  5. Burkhard C. Schipper, 2004. "Submodularity and the evolution of Walrasian behavior," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer, vol. 32(4), pages 471-477, 08.
  6. Walker, James M. & Gardner, Roy & Ostrom, Elinor, 1990. "Rent dissipation in a limited-access common-pool resource: Experimental evidence," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 203-211, November.
  7. 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.
  8. Ania, Ana B., 2008. "Evolutionary stability and Nash equilibrium in finite populations, with an application to price competition," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 65(3-4), pages 472-488, March.
  9. Peter Duersch & Jörg Oechssler & Burkhard Schipper, 2012. "Pure strategy equilibria in symmetric two-player zero-sum games," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer, vol. 41(3), pages 553-564, August.
  10. Nash, John, 1953. "Two-Person Cooperative Games," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 21(1), pages 128-140, April.
  11. Carlos Alós-Ferrer & Ana Ania, 2005. "The evolutionary stability of perfectly competitive behavior," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 26(3), pages 497-516, October.
  12. Fernando Vega-Redondo, 1997. "The Evolution of Walrasian Behavior," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(2), pages 375-384, March.
  13. Peter Duersch & Joerg Oechssler & Burkhard Schipper, 2011. "Once Beaten, Never Again: Imitation in Two-Player Potential Games," Working Papers 1112, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  14. Milgrom, P. & Shannon, C., 1991. "Monotone Comparative Statics," Papers 11, Stanford - Institute for Thoretical Economics.
  15. 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.
  16. Amir, Rabah, 1996. "Cournot Oligopoly and the Theory of Supermodular Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 132-148, August.
  17. Karl H. Schlag, . "Why Imitate, and if so, How? A Bounded Rational Approach to Multi- Armed Bandits," ELSE working papers 028, ESRC Centre on Economics Learning and Social Evolution.
  18. John B Van Huyck & Raymond C Battalio & Richard O Beil, 1997. "Tacit coordination games, strategic uncertainty, and coordination failure," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1225, David K. Levine.
  19. Monderer, Dov & Shapley, Lloyd S., 1996. "Potential Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 124-143, May.
  20. Juang, Wei-Torng, 2002. "Rule Evolution and Equilibrium Selection," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 71-90, April.
  21. Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1990. "Rationalizability, Learning, and Equilibrium in Games with Strategic Complementarities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(6), pages 1255-77, November.
  22. 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.
  23. Hehenkamp, B. & Leininger, W. & Possajennikov, A., 2004. "Evolutionary equilibrium in Tullock contests: spite and overdissipation," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 1045-1057, November.
  24. Schlag, Karl H., 1994. "Why Imitate, and if so, How? Exploring a Model of Social Evolution," Discussion Paper Serie B 296, University of Bonn, Germany.
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Citations

Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. “Unbeatable Imitation,” P. Duersch, J. Oechssler & B. C. Schipper (2012)
    by afinetheorem in A Fine Theorem on 2012-09-25 08:38:20
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Cited by:
  1. Schipper, Burkhard C, 2011. "Strategic control of myopic best reply in repeated games," MPRA Paper 30219, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Peter Duersch & Joerg Oechssler & Burkhard Schipper, 2010. "Pure Strategy Equilibria in Symmetric Two-Player Zero-Sum Games," Working Papers 1021, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  3. Peter Duersch & Joerg Oechssler & Burkhard C. Schipper, 2010. "Pure Saddle Points and Symmetric Relative Payoff Games," Working Papers 104, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  4. Duersch, Peter & Oechssler, Jörg & Schipper, Burkhard C., 2012. "Once Beaten, Never Again: Imitation in Two-Player Potential Games," Working Papers 0529, University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics.
  5. Constanza Fosco & Friederike Mengel, 2009. "Cooperation through Imitation and Exclusion in Networks," Working Papers 2009.37, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  6. Lee, SangMok, 2012. "The testable implications of zero-sum games," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 39-46.
  7. Peter Duersch & Joerg Oechssler & Burkhard Schipper, 2013. "When is Tit-For-Tat unbeatable?," Working Papers 131, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.

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