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Unbeatable Imitation

  • Peter Duersch
  • Joerg Oechssler
  • Burkhard C. Schipper

    (Department of Economics, University of California Davis)

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 in the sense that, even against a very clever opponent, 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. For many interesting classes of games including examples like 2x2 games, Cournot duopoly, price competition, public goods games, common pool resource games, and minimum effort coordination games, we obtain an even stronger notion of the unbeatability of imitation.

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Paper provided by University of California, Davis, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 103.

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Length: 31
Date of creation: 16 Mar 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cda:wpaper:10-3
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  1. Schipper, Burkhard C., 2009. "Imitators and optimizers in Cournot oligopoly," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 33(12), pages 1981-1990, December.
  2. Van Huyck, John B & Battalio, Raymond C & Beil, Richard O, 1990. "Tacit Coordination Games, Strategic Uncertainty, and Coordination Failure," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 234-48, March.
  3. Jose Alpesteguia & Steffen Huck & Jörg Oechssler, 2003. "Imitation - Theory and Experimental Evidence," CESifo Working Paper Series 1049, CESifo Group Munich.
  4. 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.
  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. 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.
  7. Karl H. Schlag, 1995. "Why Imitate, and if so, How? A Bounded Rational Approach to Multi-Armed Bandits," Discussion Paper Serie B 361, University of Bonn, Germany, revised Mar 1996.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Fernando Vega-Redondo, 1997. "The Evolution of Walrasian Behavior," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(2), pages 375-384, March.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. AMIR, Rabah, 1994. "Cournot Oligopoly and the Theory of Supermodular Games," CORE Discussion Papers 1994013, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  14. Monderer, Dov & Shapley, Lloyd S., 1996. "Potential Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 124-143, May.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. Milgrom, Paul & Shannon, Chris, 1994. "Monotone Comparative Statics," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(1), pages 157-80, January.
  18. Steffen Huck & Hans-Theo Normann & Joerg Oechssler, 1997. "Learning in Cournot Oligopoly - An Experiment," Game Theory and Information 9707009, EconWPA, revised 22 Jul 1997.
  19. 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.
  20. Juang, Wei-Torng, 2002. "Rule Evolution and Equilibrium Selection," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 71-90, April.
  21. Carlos Alós-Ferrer & Ana Ania, 2005. "The evolutionary stability of perfectly competitive behavior," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 26(3), pages 497-516, October.
  22. Burkhard Schipper, 2002. "Submodularity and the Evolution of Walrasian Behavior," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers bgse4_2003, University of Bonn, Germany.
  23. Duersch, Peter & Oechssler, Joerg & Schipper, Burkhard C, 2010. "Pure Saddle Points and Symmetric Relative Payoff Games," MPRA Paper 20864, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  24. Nash, John, 1953. "Two-Person Cooperative Games," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 21(1), pages 128-140, April.
  25. L. Randall Wray & Stephanie Bell, 2004. "Introduction," Chapters, in: Credit and State Theories of Money, chapter 1 Edward Elgar.
  26. Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1990. "Rationalizability, Learning, and Equilibrium in Games with Strategic Complementarities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(6), pages 1255-77, November.
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