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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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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/t0199.pdf
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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
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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. Martin J. Osborne & Ariel Rubinstein, 1994. "A Course in Game Theory," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262650401, June.
  2. Lazear, Edward P & Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 841-64, October.
  3. Fudenberg, Drew & Tirole, Jean, 1991. "Perfect Bayesian equilibrium and sequential equilibrium," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 236-260, April.
  4. Harsanyi, John C., 1994. "Games with Incomplete Information," Nobel Prize in Economics documents 1994-1, Nobel Prize Committee.
  5. 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.
  6. Kreps, David M & Wilson, Robert, 1982. "Sequential Equilibria," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 863-94, July.
  7. Ariel Rubinstein, 2010. "Perfect Equilibrium in a Bargaining Model," Levine's Working Paper Archive 252, David K. Levine.
  8. Cramton, Peter C & Tracy, Joseph S, 1992. "Strikes and Holdouts in Wage Bargaining: Theory and Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(1), pages 100-121, March.
  9. 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.
  10. Spence, A Michael, 1973. "Job Market Signaling," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 87(3), pages 355-74, August.
  11. H. Peyton Young, 1996. "The Economics of Convention," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(2), pages 105-122, Spring.
  12. Benabou, R. & Laroque, G., 1989. "Using Privileged Information To Manipulate Markets: Insiders, Gurus, And Credibility," Working papers 513, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
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