Autumn Semester 2020 takes place in a mixed form of online and classroom teaching.
Please read the published information on the individual courses carefully.

851-0588-00L  Introduction to Game Theory

SemesterSpring Semester 2020
LecturersH. Nax, B. Pradelski
Periodicityyearly recurring course
Language of instructionEnglish
CommentNumber of participants limited to 480.

Particularly suitable for students of D-INFK, D-MATH

Catalogue data

AbstractThis course introduces the foundations of game theory with a focus on its basic mathematical principles. It treats models of social interaction, conflict and cooperation, the origin of cooperation, and concepts of strategic decision making behavior. Examples, applications, theory, and the contrast between theory and empirical results are particularly emphasized.
ObjectiveLearn the fundamentals, models, and logic of thinking about game theory. Learn basic mathematical principles. Apply formal game theory models to strategic interaction situations and critically assess game theory's capabilities through a wide array of applications and experimental results.
ContentGame theory provides a unified mathematical language to study interactions amongst different types of individuals (e.g. humans, firms, nations, animals, etc.). It is often used to analyze situations involving conflict and/or cooperation. The course introduces the basic concepts of both non-cooperative and cooperative game theory (players, strategies, coalitions, rules of games, utilities, etc.) and explains the most prominent game-theoretic solution concepts (Nash equilibrium, sub-game perfection, Core, Shapley Value, etc.). We will also discuss standard extensions (repeated games, incomplete information, evolutionary game theory, signal games, etc.).

In each part of the course, we focus on examples and on selected applications of the theory in different areas. These include analyses of cooperation, social interaction, of institutions and norms, social dilemmas and reciprocity as well as applications on strategic behavior in politics and between countries and companies, the impact of reciprocity, in the labor market, and some applications from biology. Game theory is also applied to control-theoretic problems of transport planning and computer science.

As we present theory and applications, we will also discuss how experimental and other empirical studies have shown that human behavior in the real world often does not meet the strict requirements of rationality from "standard theory", leading us to models of "behavioural" and "experimental" game theory.

By the end of the course, students should be able to apply game-theoretic in diverse areas of analysis including > controlling turbines in a wind park, > nations negotiating international agreements, > firms competing in markets, > humans sharing a common resource, etc.
Lecture notesSee literature below. In addition we will provide additional literature readings and publish the lecture slides directly after each lecture.
LiteratureK Binmore, Fun and games, a text on game theory, 1994, Great Source Education

SR Chakravarty, M Mitra and P Sarkar, A Course on Cooperative Game Theory, 2015, Cambridge University Press

A Diekmann, Spieltheorie: Einführung, Beispiele, Experimente, 2009, Rowolth

MJ Osborne, An Introduction to Game Theory, 2004, Oxford University Press New York

J Nash, Non-Cooperative Games, 1951, Annals of Mathematics

JW Weibull, Evolutionary game theory, 1997, MIT Press

HP Young, Strategic Learning and Its Limits, 2004, Oxford University Press

Performance assessment

Performance assessment information (valid until the course unit is held again)
Performance assessment as a semester course
ECTS credits3 credits
ExaminersH. Nax, B. Pradelski
Typegraded semester performance
Language of examinationEnglish
RepetitionRepetition only possible after re-enrolling for the course unit.
Additional information on mode of examinationStudents will be asked to deliver group projects in the form of research papers on selected topics.

Learning materials

Main linkCourse website
Only public learning materials are listed.


851-0588-00 VIntroduction to Game Theory
Groups are selected in myStudies.
Block course: 25th May to 29th May 2020, The block course is held in 2 groups:

Course I: 09 - 12
Course II: 14 - 17

Course projects: developed during and following the course.
15s hrs
25.05. - 29.05.09-12ER SA TZ »
14-17ER SA TZ »
29.05.10-12ER SA TZ »
H. Nax, B. Pradelski


851-0588-00 VIntroduction to Game Theory
29.05.10-12ER SA TZ »
25.05. - 29.05.09-12ER SA TZ »
25.05. - 29.05.14-17ER SA TZ »


Places480 at the most
Waiting listuntil 01.03.2020

Offered in

Doctoral Department of Humanities, Social and Political SciencesDoctoral and Post-Doctoral CoursesWInformation
GESS Science in PerspectiveD-INFKWInformation
GESS Science in PerspectiveSociologyWInformation
GESS Science in PerspectiveD-MATHWInformation
Public Policy BachelorElective CoursesWInformation