Stanford Professors Include Poker Concepts in Advanced Game Theory Instruction
A new course on game theory by Stanford University professors Matthew O. Jackson and Yoahav Shoham promises to introduce poker strategies into complex game theory instruction beginning in 2013.
The course is offed by Coursera, an online education company that has partnered with top universities around the globe to offer free courses taught by world-class professors.
Jackson, an economics professors, and Shoham, with a computer science background, will use the “imperfect information” structure inherent in poker as one form of game theory instruction, which has long been a favorite topic for advanced strategy devotees.
Game theory as a university-level subject has been taught sporadically since at least the 1970’s, and received its first widespread, popular exposure in the movie “A Beautiful Mind,” the 2001 film starring Russell Crowe.
Game theory applications help explain many forms of human conflict, from sports and games to politics, business, and even war. One classic game-theory stratagem, called the prisoners’ dilemma, famously illustrates how the selfish actions of each individual in a group can affect others, often leading to worse outcomes for the group as a whole.
The course by Jackson and Shoham, which starts in January, promises to move beyond the information models present in games and sports such as poker, chess and soccer, moving on to some modern-life interactions which readily show how game theory applies and can be used.
eBay auctions, peer-to-peer file-sharing networks, elections and fantasy-sports leagues are just a small sampling of everyday situations where participants can benefit both intellectually and financially by understanding and using game-theory concepts. Other concepts to be taught include game trees, Bayesian analysis and repeated and stochastic games.