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An Introduction to Applicable Game Theory

  • Robert Gibbons

This paper offers an introduction to game theory for applied economists. I try to give simple definitions and intuitive examples of the basic kinds of games and their solution concepts. There are four kinds of games: static or dynamic, and complete or incomplete information. ( Complete information means there is no private information.) The corresponding solution concepts are: Nash equilibrium in static games of complete information; backwards induction (or subgame-perfect Nash equilibrium) in dynamic games of complete information; Bayesian Nash equilibrium in static games with incomplete information; and perfect Bayesian (or sequential) equilibrium in dynamic games with incomplete information. The main theme of the paper is that these solution concepts are closely linked. As we consider progressively richer games, we progressively strengthen the solution concept, to rule out implausible equilibria in the richer games that would survive if we applied solution concepts available for simpler games. In each case, the stronger solution concept differs from the weaker concept only for the richer games, not for the simpler games.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Technical Working Papers with number 0199.

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Date of creation: Jul 1997
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Journal of Economic Perspectives, vol.11, pp.127-149. Winter, 1997.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberte:0199
Note: LS
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  1. Sanford J. Grossman & Oliver D. Hart, 1980. "Takeover Bids, the Free-Rider Problem, and the Theory of the Corporation," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 11(1), pages 42-64, Spring.
  2. Rubinstein, Ariel, 1982. "Perfect Equilibrium in a Bargaining Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(1), pages 97-109, January.
  3. Benabou, R. & Laroque, G., 1988. "Using Privileged Information To Manipulate Markets: Insiders, Gurus And Credibility," Papers 19, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Discussion Paper.
  4. David M Kreps & Robert Wilson, 2003. "Sequential Equilibria," Levine's Working Paper Archive 618897000000000813, David K. Levine.
  5. Edward P. Lazear & Sherwin Rosen, 1979. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," NBER Working Papers 0401, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Fudenberg, Drew & Tirole, Jean, 1991. "Perfect Bayesian equilibrium and sequential equilibrium," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 236-260, April.
  7. Spence, A Michael, 1973. "Job Market Signaling," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 87(3), pages 355-74, August.
  8. Martin J. Osborne & Ariel Rubinstein, 1994. "A Course in Game Theory," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262650401, June.
  9. H. Peyton Young, 1996. "The Economics of Convention," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(2), pages 105-122, Spring.
  10. Harsanyi, John C, 1995. "Games with Incomplete Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 291-303, June.
  11. Peter Cramton & Joseph S. Tracy, 1992. "Strikes and Holdouts in Wage Bargaining: Theory and Data," Papers of Peter Cramton 92aer, University of Maryland, Department of Economics - Peter Cramton, revised 09 Jun 1998.
  12. Kreps, David M. & Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John & Wilson, Robert, 1982. "Rational cooperation in the finitely repeated prisoners' dilemma," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 245-252, August.
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