Popularized by movies such as "A Beautiful Mind", game theory is the mathematical modeling of strategic interaction among rational (and irrational) agents. Over four weeks of lectures, this advanced course considers how to design interactions between agents in order to achieve good social outcomes. Three main topics are covered: social choice theory (i.e., collective decision making), mechanism design, and auctions.
There will be four weeks of materials consisting of online videos and problem sets. We recommend that you complete the problem set for each week within that week, although the hard deadline is two weeks from the release date. On the fifth week, we will have a final exam.
Week 1. Social Choice
Week 2. Mechanism Design
Week 3. Efficient Mechanisms
Week 4. Auctions
Week 5-6. Final exam and final problem set.
You must be comfortable with mathematical thinking and rigorous arguments. Relatively little specific math is required; the course involves lightweight probability theory (for example, you should know what a conditional probability is) and very lightweight calculus (for instance, taking a derivative).
The following background readings provide more detailed coverage of the course material:
Multiagent Systems: Algorithmic, Game-Theoretic, and Logical Foundations, by Yoav Shoham and Kevin Leyton-Brown; Cambridge University Press, 2009. This book has the same structure as the course, and covers most of the same material. It is available as a free PDF download from the link above or for sale as a physical book from (e.g.) amazon.com.
A Brief Introduction to the Basics of Game Theory, by Matthew O. Jackson. These notes offer a quick introduction to the basics of game theory; they are available as a free PDF download.
Videos. The lectures are delivered via videos, which are broken into small chunks, usually between five and fifteen minutes each. There will be approximately one and a half hours of video content per week. You may watch the lecture videos at your convenience. Lower-resolution videos are also available for those with slow Internet connections.
Yes. Students who successfully complete the class will receive a statement of accomplishment signed by the instructors.