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On the complexity of rationalizing behavior

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Abstract

We study the complexity of rationalizing choice behavior. We do so by analyzing two polar cases, and a number of intermediate ones. In our most structured case, that is where choice behavior is defined in universal choice domains and satisfies the "weak axiom of revealed preference," finding the complete preorder rationalizing choice behavior is a simple matter. In the polar case, where no restriction whatsoever is imposed, either on choice behavior or on choice domain, finding the complete preorders that rationalize behavior turns out to be intractable. We show that the task of finding the rationalizing complete preorders is equivalent to a graph problem. This allows the search for existing algorithms in the graph theory literature, for the rationalization of choice.

Suggested Citation

  • Jose Apesteguia & Miguel A. Ballester, 2007. "On the complexity of rationalizing behavior," Economics Working Papers 1048, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  • Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:1048
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Yuval Salant, 2003. "Limited Computational Resources Favor Rationality," NajEcon Working Paper Reviews 666156000000000082, www.najecon.org.
    2. Xu, Yongsheng & Zhou, Lin, 2007. "Rationalizability of choice functions by game trees," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 134(1), pages 548-556, May.
    3. Gil Kalai & Ariel Rubinstein & Ran Spiegler, 2002. "Rationalizing Choice Functions By Multiple Rationales," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(6), pages 2481-2488, November.
    4. Yuval Salant, 2003. "Limited Computational Resources Favor Rationality," Discussion Paper Series dp320, The Federmann Center for the Study of Rationality, the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.
    5. Rubinstein,Ariel, 2000. "Economics and Language," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521789905.
    6. Ballester, Coralio, 2004. "NP-completeness in hedonic games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 1-30, October.
    7. Enriqueta Aragones & Itzhak Gilboa & Andrew Postlewaite & David Schmeidler, 2005. "Fact-Free Learning," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(5), pages 1355-1368, December.
    8. Amartya K. Sen, 1971. "Choice Functions and Revealed Preference," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(3), pages 307-317.
    9. S. Illeris & G. Akehurst, 2001. "Introduction," The Service Industries Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 21(1), pages 1-4, January.
    10. Paola Manzini & Marco Mariotti, 2007. "Sequentially Rationalizable Choice," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(5), pages 1824-1839, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Tyson, Christopher J., 2008. "Cognitive constraints, contraction consistency, and the satisficing criterion," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 138(1), pages 51-70, January.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Rationalization; Computational complexity; NP-complete; Arbitrary Choice Domains;

    JEL classification:

    • D00 - Microeconomics - - General - - - General

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