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Unbeatable Imitation

  • Duersch, Peter
  • Oechssler, Jörg
  • Schipper, Burkhard C.

We show that for many classes of symmetric two-player games, the simple decision rule "imitate-the-best" can hardly be beaten by any other decision rule. We provide necessary and sufficient conditions for imitation to be unbeatable and show that it can only be beaten by much in games that are of the rock-scissors-paper variety. Thus, in many interesting examples, like 2x2 games, Cournot duopoly, price competition, rent seeking, public goods games, common pool resource games, minimum effort coordination games, arms race, search, bargaining, etc., imitation cannot be beaten by much even by a very clever opponent.

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Paper provided by University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 0499.

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Date of creation: 30 Mar 2010
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Handle: RePEc:awi:wpaper:0499
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  1. Schipper, Burkhard C., 2005. "Imitators and Optimizers in Cournot Oligopoly," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 53, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
  2. 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.
  3. Ana B. Ania, 2005. "Evolutionary stability and Nash equilibrium in finite populations, with an application to price competition," Vienna Economics Papers 0601, University of Vienna, Department of Economics.
  4. 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.
  5. Schaffer, Mark E., 1989. "Are profit-maximisers the best survivors? : A Darwinian model of economic natural selection," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 29-45, August.
  6. Apesteguia, Jose & Huck, Steffen & Oechssler, Jorg, 2007. "Imitation--theory and experimental evidence," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 136(1), pages 217-235, September.
  7. K. Schlag, 2010. "Why Imitate, and if so, How? Exploring a Model of Social Evolution," Levine's Working Paper Archive 454, David K. Levine.
  8. Burkhard Schipper, 2002. "Submodularity and the Evolution of Walrasian Behavior," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers bgse4_2003, University of Bonn, Germany.
  9. Offerman, Theo & Potters, Jan & Sonnemans, Joep, 2002. "Imitation and Belief Learning in an Oligopoly Experiment," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 69(4), pages 973-97, October.
  10. Milgrom, Paul & Shannon, Chris, 1994. "Monotone Comparative Statics," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(1), pages 157-80, January.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1990. "Rationalizability, Learning, and Equilibrium in Games with Strategic Complementarities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(6), pages 1255-77, November.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. Carlos Alós-Ferrer & Ana Ania, 2005. "The evolutionary stability of perfectly competitive behavior," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 26(3), pages 497-516, October.
  17. Steffen Huck & Hans-Theo Normann & Joerg Oechssler, 1997. "Learning in Cournot Oligopoly - An Experiment," Game Theory and Information 9707009, EconWPA, revised 22 Jul 1997.
  18. 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.
  19. Juang, Wei-Torng, 2002. "Rule Evolution and Equilibrium Selection," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 71-90, April.
  20. Amir, Rabah, 1996. "Cournot Oligopoly and the Theory of Supermodular Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 132-148, August.
  21. Fernando Vega-Redondo, 1997. "The Evolution of Walrasian Behavior," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(2), pages 375-384, March.
  22. J. B. Van Huyck & R. C. Battalio & R. O. Beil, 2010. "Tacit coordination games, strategic uncertainty, and coordination failure," Levine's Working Paper Archive 661465000000000393, David K. Levine.
  23. Nash, John, 1953. "Two-Person Cooperative Games," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 21(1), pages 128-140, April.
  24. L. Randall Wray & Stephanie Bell, 2004. "Introduction," Chapters, in: Credit and State Theories of Money, chapter 1 Edward Elgar.
  25. 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.
  26. Monderer, Dov & Shapley, Lloyd S., 1996. "Potential Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 124-143, May.
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