Back to Game Theory

4.6

stars

3,276 ratings

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662 reviews

Popularized by movies such as "A Beautiful Mind," game theory is the mathematical modeling of strategic interaction among rational (and irrational) agents. Beyond what we call `games' in common language, such as chess, poker, soccer, etc., it includes the modeling of conflict among nations, political campaigns, competition among firms, and trading behavior in markets such as the NYSE. How could you begin to model keyword auctions, and peer to peer file-sharing networks, without accounting for the incentives of the people using them? The course will provide the basics: representing games and strategies, the extensive form (which computer scientists call game trees), Bayesian games (modeling things like auctions), repeated and stochastic games, and more. We'll include a variety of examples including classic games and a few applications.
You can find a full syllabus and description of the course here: http://web.stanford.edu/~jacksonm/GTOC-Syllabus.html
There is also an advanced follow-up course to this one, for people already familiar with game theory: https://www.coursera.org/learn/gametheory2/
You can find an introductory video here: http://web.stanford.edu/~jacksonm/Intro_Networks.mp4...

AJ

Apr 24, 2020

This is a really helpful course which provides me with a basic understanding of game theory, its applications and ways to solve certain games. Huge thanks to the professors who made these recordings.

WY

May 17, 2017

Great ! Interesting and abound at the same time. Hope Professors will clarify the strategic utility function more clearly because it's hard for students with poor math basic(forget most><) right now!

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By SoloVictor

•May 13, 2017

The instruction here is almost never self-sufficient. Except for a few (and very simple) concepts, one has to spend hours on the free web for more accessible explanations of the topics introduced here. My suggestions on improving the course would be three-fold – (i) spend more time within the lectures explaining each concept (ii) increase the number of in-lecture quizzes, and (ii) provide links to more reading materials on each subject.

By Lee S Y

•Dec 30, 2017

Easily the most challenging introductory course I've taken, but definitely worth it. I must say though that I learnt more from failing the quizzes than the lectures or practice questions.

By 吳冠融 ( W

•Jun 09, 2019

It's a good course for people who want to learn solid knowledge of game theory. Contents are rich and formalized.

Things that can be improved in my opinion:

1. In some weeks, the professors just go deep down into definitions and theorems before providing enough ideas about the problem we are trying to solve here, especially in week 7 (coalitional games).

2. There are many typos in the subtitles.

By Rishabh M

•May 10, 2019

The course syllabus and contents are tough but great. There are 3 teachers who teach us and that makes it a little difficult to follow though. Also, one of the instructors totally goes off topic and too deep into mathematics without giving much clarity.

By Dionisis A

•Apr 14, 2019

It was such a helpful course that gave me the opportunity to learn few basic methods and terms about game theory through lots of interesting and to the point examples by three unique professors

By Paul B

•May 18, 2017

The subject is very interesting but the teaching is not very good. The teachers make a lot of mistakes and when you are learning a subject it is hard to distinguish between the example showing that you do not understand the subject or the example being wrong. There is also a serious lack of repetition in this course. A new subject is introduced and barely explained and from then on it is assumed that you know that subject by hard. Often a concept if explained by the teacher reading out the definition verbatim and that description often contains concepts that are not explained or actually contain the concept that it is being explained (e.g. A tree is an object that is shaped like a tree). There are very few examples and the few there are are often rushed. For example one side of the example is worked out and the other side of the example is skipped. Repetition is probably the most important part in teaching and completely missed in this course. I would describe this course as an excellent introduction to Game Theory for people who are already experts in Game Theory.

By George T

•Feb 01, 2020

A hodgepodge of slides, lots of stuttering and instructors who are bad at presenting concepts. Be prepared to spend a LOT of time researching and studying everything from scratch. Very frustrating course delivery for a very interesting topic.

By 李昂

•Nov 05, 2017

Shoham's teaching makes this class suffer.

By Ambuj S

•Jan 27, 2019

Excellent course for beginners. Problem sets are very creative. No more further resources needed. I found this course specially useful if the purpose is to apply Game Theory in other disciplines.

By Deborah J

•Nov 28, 2018

Lectures are hard to understand, audibly not intellectually. The speakers are not well organized, they hand wave over complex ideas and the majority of the math assuming you understand linear algebra and higher. The speakers are not engaging. The subject material - usually exciting and clever - becomes a burden to wade through with these instructors. I didn't make it through the course as I couldn't stay awake for it.

By Michael C

•Apr 20, 2017

I had no previous background in game theory before taking this course. I am an undergraduate physics major with the corresponding mathematical competence (up to multivariable calculus, differential equations, etc.), and an introductory course in Discrete Math. So I had seen the set theory and summation notation before, but had no experience applying them to game theory.

The instructors were excellent and clearly have a deep academic background in the subject, as well as a significant personal interest. This is important because they didn't come off as if they were just relaying information; they gave the impression of genuinely enjoying the material and even going into brief interludes about the motivation behind some of the definitions and examples from their personal perspectives, in addition to the more "standard" lecture material.

The course is definitely an introduction, and doesn't go into most of the more formal proofs of the theorems used, nor does it use examples or homework problems that require a significant background in the subject. I found I was able to complete most of the problem sets within 4-5 hours, with an average of about 3 hours. But your mileage on this may vary, especially if you're less familiar with the mathematical notation and the style of problem solving used. This is not to say the problems are not difficult, because they are! Many of them are non-intuitive and require you to think around corners, or consider methods of thinking and problem-solving that are not commonly used in math and the natural sciences. This, I think, is a byproduct of game theory's preeminent figure -- John Nash's -- unique approach to mathematics. He was famous for using highly intuitive, non-rigorous ways of coming to conclusions before proving them more formally. Thus, the field is a bit unconventional in its methods and approach, and won't be automatically accessible just because someone has already had exposure to advanced math or science. It requires time and careful thought to develop a deep understanding of. But I found that this effort was well rewarded by the end of the course where I started to see all the earlier theorems and techniques coming together to form a unified system of problem-solving capabilities.

I strongly intend to take the advanced version of this course that is also offered on Coursera. As for this one, I recommend it to anyone interested in understanding the mathematics of games, competitive environments, and complex systems in general! Very well done by the instructors.

By Charles G

•Mar 30, 2018

Incredibly theoretical with boring videos. I solved everything by watching YouTube videos and ignoring the material by the class entirely. I was very disappointed.

Perhaps it would be more useful for the students if the class was denoted with how theoretical and convoluted it is?

The YouTubers and Khan Academy do an infinitely better job of teaching this subject with much more human examples and much less "math-speak"

By Robert S

•Nov 21, 2018

Great introduction to game theory, especially for those with some mathematical background. Good examples of using models presented in the course to analyze real-world situations.

By Jingyi G

•Oct 10, 2016

Actually, this course is a great one to take. Professors have explained these concepts and main ideas very clearly, therefore students can understand it very easily, even if they do not have previous knowledge about game theory. I want to say “thank you” to all the three professors for making such a concise and intelligible course.

However, I would like to give some suggestions about this course. There is an obvious gap between the quizzes and graded assignments. Sometimes the quiz is very easy and it just requires you to have a basic understanding of the concept, while the assignment is even more difficult than the examples included in the videos. I think this course would be better if the staff can improve the difficulty gap between quizzes and assignments. And for people who want to enroll this course, an exercise book with detailed solution would be helpful for you to learn it better.

As for the content of this course, there are lots of formulas from Week 5 to the end, which are a little difficult to understand. I fully understand this because math is always abstract, and formulation is an essential part of it. I think this problem can be solved by providing more ungraded quizzes for students to practice. They can have a better comprehension of the content through practicing.

Anyway, this course is worth taking. Through learning it you will gain not only the knowledge about game theory, but also a new way to understand relationships around you. Happy learning!

By 张羽弛

•Jun 03, 2019

It's a good course and it would definitely better if the subtitles were not down some how. At most of the time I didn't get the point of the course immediately and I learn better with those practice questions. It would be better with more examples. The assignment and practice questions are too easy btw.

By Václav M

•Jul 04, 2020

The first weeks are very well structured and can be understood, but later on it gets more confused. I don't feel like I understand the cooperative games (weeks 6-8) after this course.

By Andrey S

•Mar 23, 2020

The course content is far from being well prepared. A lot of definitions are unclear or not precise, different lecturers sometimes use different notations. Same is true for the recommended literature. In one of the videos, the lecturer repeatedly calls some numbers higher than one a "probability", which is not acceptable. Although the selection of topics could be considered suitable, for the clarity of definitions I needed to access some materials outside of the course, for example, https://www.coursera.org/learn/gametheory or book of А.В. Захаров, "Теория игр в общественных науках".

By Laith A

•May 19, 2020

Had to spend hours on the internet daily to solve problems sets, the videos are of low quality. lack of exercise and real content.

It would have been more beneficial if this course focused more on concepts rather than math given that its a beginner course.

By Ben P

•Jan 26, 2017

This course is a very enjoyable tour of introductory game theory, covering several different general types of games and a wide variety of examples taken from real-world situations.

The main results of the theory are stated and demonstrated by examples, rather than proved (if you're looking for a proof of Nash's theorem, you won't find it here but you should definitely look at his original one-page paper from 1949 which is freely available online). Some advanced topics are also briefly mentioned so that interested students have the option to look them up for themselves.

Some may find the use of formal mathematical notation offputting, so you'll want to be comfortable with inequalities, linear equations and the basic notation of set theory.

In the discussion forums for my session, the course mentor was very helpful and supportive of all the students. Some feedback on error corrections and suggestions was posted to the forums (including a summary list posted in week 8) which will hopefully reach one of the instructors.

Overall, I highly recommend the course and am looking forward to part 2!

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By Aishwarya U

•Jun 14, 2017

I really enjoyed the course, which I pursued, at a time, I was commencing a project on multi-agent systems. Basically, two opponent robots and how they'd "strategise" against each other, for different tasks.

The lectures/quizzes/ course structure were a HUGE boost to formulating and well, I wouldn't' go as far as saying, solving, but moving towards solving the research problem, as this course helped me understand the technicalities of game theory as well as develop an intuition towards the approach.

One more point I'd raise in praise, is how, as the instructors are from diverse backgrounds, it lends a certain universality to thinking about the applications that come with every week's module - which, is contrary to my usual style of learning, but in this case, mind-expanding.

All in all, I really enjoyed the structure, and look forward to learning and applying further in my doctoral studies. Thanks a lot to the instructors and Coursera for giving me the opportunity to do so!

By Felix M

•Jan 17, 2020

I think this course covers the basics of Game Theory well. The three professors are competent and explain the topics well. I also enjoyed the assignments because of their practical nature.

If I had to name possible improvements I would suggest three things. One of the professors tends to talk very fast and is hard to follow sometimes. While I enjoyed the assignments more real world examples and applications would have been nice. Finally, I think the last week before the final assignment (week 7) about coalition games felt a little bit rushed and I had a hard time doing the assignment based on the video lectures alone. I had to use external materials to finish the assignment. Of course, that is totally acceptable, but I didn't have to do that for the prior weeks which were self contained.

By Zhu L

•Aug 02, 2017

Interesting one, but I think this course is better called "introduction to introduction to game theory".

As game theory is really a tough discipline, I guess the designer of this course might have taken this point a bit too far, fearing that learners online might have trouble digesting the true game theory course.

In terms of definitions and examples, most analysis are limited to very basic two-player games with simple calculation.

You don't get to understand things without applying it to generality and larger data scale.

Also, I doubt some simple programming could be introduced to enrich the assignment.

I suppose it's better suited for those finance and economics majors, not CS majors.

By Manhar M

•Jun 22, 2020

While I think the course material is really good for someone who has had a taste of game theory in the past and works as an excellent prerequisite to the advanced topics, the mathematical proofs should have been given more weightage. In addition, Prof. Yoav should work a little more on improving his explanatory skills, and giving some background before getting into algorithms that are derived from the field of computer science. Some additional readings and citing sources for certain topics would be useful for people wanting to read up more (like Prof. Jackson did for the proof for the Shapley Value). All in all, a pretty resourceful course.

By Nikolaj M

•Oct 09, 2016

This course is great. The teachers provide excellent exposition of the problems, the formalization, and the solution concepts of generic agents and types of agents acting simultaneously, sequentially in games with complete and incomplete information. The math required is middle school probability calculation and equations. The formal definitions of games and concepts are more demanding, but a complete understanding of the formal definition is not required to solve the problem sets or the exam. The teachers are good at giving explanations and examples in a natural language to scaffold the understanding of the formal definitions.

By DS C

•Aug 25, 2017

The course is superb. However, it would be nice to have more "first principles" examples and explanations, instead of frequently relying on convenient tricks such as iterated removal of strictly-dominated strategies, symmetry, and substitute-able MC answers. These tricks help tremendously in introducing new concepts, but not so much in solving generic problems. For example, while the Nash equilibrium is defined rigorously using best response, in quizzes it is often found by trial-and-error using the no-player-wishes-to-deviate concept instead of the definition.

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