Back to Game Theory

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807 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...

WY

May 16, 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!

SC

Feb 7, 2022

I would have preferred a more mathematically rigorous treatment of the subject. Nevertheless, this was a great course — the instructors expounded all concepts with exceptional clarity and engagement.

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By SoloVictor V

•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 29, 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 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 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 1, 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 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 李昂

•Nov 5, 2017

Shoham's teaching makes this class suffer.

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 吳冠融 ( W

•Jun 9, 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 Dionysis 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 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 S. S B

•Apr 24, 2020

this course is not for beginners. It is very difficult

By Michael C

•Apr 19, 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 Pradip M

•Dec 13, 2020

Way too difficult for me

Right over my top

By Wang Y

•May 16, 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!

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 Anoushka B

•Apr 25, 2020

I enjoyed learning about Game theory. The course syllabus was extremely interesting and pushed me to read and research more about Game theory. It has helped me a lot with my personal growth.

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 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 Li Z

•Aug 1, 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 Shashankh C

•Feb 8, 2022

I would have preferred a more mathematically rigorous treatment of the subject. Nevertheless, this was a great course — the instructors expounded all concepts with exceptional clarity and engagement.

By Fumagalli F

•Aug 26, 2021

As someone who knew almost nothing about Game Theory beforehand I've really enjoyed this course. I just wish there were more exercises, especially about the Shapley Value. Leyton-Brown's lessons were my favourite, and I enjoyed the bits of mathematical history here and there and the simple examples. For reference, it took me around 20 hours to follow the lessons taking notes and complete the exercises, although I'll have to review further a lot of the theory. Thanks!

By Robert S

•Nov 20, 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 Aldrich W

•Sep 18, 2020

This course is pretty challenging and involves some complicated math, but it is really helpful! Nice concepts explained by three professors!

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!

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