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When is Tit-For-Tat unbeatable?

  • Peter Duersch
  • Joerg Oechssler
  • Burkhard Schipper

    (Department of Economics, University of California Davis)

We characterize the class of symmetric two-player games in which tit-for-tat cannot be beaten even by very sophisticated opponents in a repeated game. It turns out to be the class of exact potential games. More generally, there is a class of simple imitation rules that includes tit-for-tat but also imitate-the-best and imitate-if-better. Every decision rule in this class is essentially unbeatable in exact potential games. Our results apply to many interesting games including all symmetric 2x2 games, and standard examples of Cournot duopoly, price competition, public goods games, common pool resource games, and minimum effort coordination games.

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Paper provided by University of California, Davis, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 131.

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Length: 15
Date of creation: 22 Jan 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cda:wpaper:13-1
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  1. Peleg, Bezalel, 1998. "Almost all equilibria in dominant strategies are coalition - proof," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 60(2), pages 157-162, August.
  2. Apesteguia, Jose & Huck, Steffen & Oechssler, Jörg & Weidenholzer, Simon, 2010. "Imitation and the evolution of Walrasian behavior: Theoretically fragile but behaviorally robust," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 145(5), pages 1603-1617, September.
  3. Duersch, Peter & Oechssler, Jörg & Schipper, Burkhard C., 2012. "Unbeatable imitation," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 76(1), pages 88-96.
  4. repec:ner:tilbur:urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-121822 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1990. "Rationalizability, Learning, and Equilibrium in Games with Strategic Complementarities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(6), pages 1255-77, November.
  6. Erik J. Balder, 1996. "Remarks on Nash equilibria for games with additively coupled payoffs (*)," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 9(1), pages 161-167.
  7. 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.
  8. repec:ner:tilbur:urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-91663 is not listed on IDEAS
  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. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Fernando Vega-Redondo, 1997. "The Evolution of Walrasian Behavior," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(2), pages 375-384, March.
  15. Monderer, Dov & Shapley, Lloyd S., 1996. "Potential Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 124-143, May.
  16. Theo Offerman & Jan Potters & Joep Sonnemans, 2002. "Imitation and Belief Learning in an Oligopoly Experiment," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(4), pages 973-997.
  17. 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.
  18. Brânzei, R. & Mallozzi, L. & Tijs, S.H., 2003. "Supermodular games and potential games," Other publications TiSEM 87c16860-0596-4448-808d-c, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
  19. Schipper, Burkhard C., 2009. "Imitators and optimizers in Cournot oligopoly," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 33(12), pages 1981-1990, December.
  20. 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.
  21. Branzei, Rodica & Mallozzi, Lina & Tijs, Stef, 2003. "Supermodular games and potential games," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(1-2), pages 39-49, February.
  22. Carlos Alós-Ferrer & Ana Ania, 2005. "The evolutionary stability of perfectly competitive behavior," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 26(3), pages 497-516, October.
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