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Metastable Equilibria


  • Govindan, Srihari

    (U of Iowa)

  • Wilson, Robert B.

    (Stanford U)


We define a refinement of Nash equilibria called metastability. This refinement supposes that the given game might be embedded within any global game that leaves its local bestreply correspondence unaffected. A selected set of equilibria is metastable if it is robust against perturbations of every such global game; viz., every sufficiently small perturbation of the best-reply correspondence of each global game has an equilibrium that projects arbitrarily near the selected set. Metastability satisfies the standard decisiontheoretic axioms obtained by Mertens' (1989) refinement (the strongest proposed refinement), and it satisfies the projection property in Mertens' small-worlds axiom: a metastable set of a global game projects to a metastable set of a local game. But the converse is slightly weaker than Mertens' decomposition property: a metastable set of a local game contains a metastable set that is the projection of a metastable set of a global game. This is inevitable given our demonstration that metastability is equivalent to a strong form of homotopic essentiality. Mertens' definition invokes homological essentiality whereas we derive homotopic essentiality from primitives (robustness for every embedding). We argue that this weak version of decomposition has a natural gametheoretic interpretation.

Suggested Citation

  • Govindan, Srihari & Wilson, Robert B., 2007. "Metastable Equilibria," Research Papers 1934r, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:stabus:1934r

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kreps, David M & Wilson, Robert, 1982. "Sequential Equilibria," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 863-894, July.
    2. Srihari Govindan & Jean-François Mertens, 2004. "An equivalent definition of stable Equilibria," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer;Game Theory Society, vol. 32(3), pages 339-357, June.
    3. Wilson, Robert B. & Govindan, Srihari, 2006. "Sufficient conditions for stable equilibria," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 1(2), pages 167-206, June.
    4. Mertens, Jean-Francois, 1992. "The small worlds axiom for stable equilibria," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 4(4), pages 553-564, October.
    5. Jean-François Mertens, 1989. "Stable Equilibria---A Reformulation," Mathematics of Operations Research, INFORMS, vol. 14(4), pages 575-625, November.
    6. Hillas, John & Kohlberg, Elon, 2002. "Foundations of strategic equilibrium," Handbook of Game Theory with Economic Applications,in: R.J. Aumann & S. Hart (ed.), Handbook of Game Theory with Economic Applications, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 42, pages 1597-1663 Elsevier.
    7. Hillas, John, 1990. "On the Definition of the Strategic Stability of Equilibria," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(6), pages 1365-1390, November.
    8. Mclennan, A., 1989. "Selected Topics In The Theory Of Fixed Points," Papers 251, Minnesota - Center for Economic Research.
    9. Govindan, Srihari & Wilson, Robert B., 2007. "Stable Outcomes of Generic Games in Extensive Form," Research Papers 1933r, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
    10. Kohlberg, Elon & Mertens, Jean-Francois, 1986. "On the Strategic Stability of Equilibria," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(5), pages 1003-1037, September.
    11. Srihari Govindan & Robert Wilson, 2006. "Essential Equilibria," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000001035, UCLA Department of Economics.
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    Cited by:

    1. Srihari Govindan & Robert Wilson, 2012. "Axiomatic Equilibrium Selection for Generic Two‐Player Games," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 80(4), pages 1639-1699, July.
    2. Srihari Govindan & Robert Wilson, 2008. "Axiomatic Theory of Equilibrium Selection in Signalling Games with Generic Payoffs," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000002381, David K. Levine.
    3. Govindan, Srihari & Wilson, Robert B., 2007. "Stable Outcomes of Generic Games in Extensive Form," Research Papers 1933r, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.

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