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Topic: Game theory - theory of promises?
Replies: 4   Last Post: Jul 3, 2004 9:35 AM

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Posts: 7
Registered: 12/13/04
Re: Game theory - theory of promises?
Posted: Jul 2, 2004 10:04 AM
  Click to see the message monospaced in plain text Plain Text   Click to reply to this topic Reply (Malcolm Ryan) wrote in message news:<cbuj0e$keu$>...
> A question about game theory:
> In a classic n-player simultaneous move matrix game (eg, the
> Prisoner's dilemma) better outcomes can be obtained if you have some
> way of making a binding (or believable) promise that you will choose a
> particular action.
> Eg: Say you and I are about to play Prisoner's Dilemma. But we are
> given the opportunity to communicate before the game, and I swear upon
> my life that I will cooperate, if you promise to do likewise. Now it
> is in your best interest to agree. We both promise to cooperate, and
> as people of our word, we both maintain our promises. For each of us
> the payoff is better than it could have been without having made the
> promises before the game.
> Alternatively, promises can be regarded as threats. Consider the game
> of Chicken:
> Drive Swerve
> ME Drive (0,0) (3,1)
> Swerve (1,3) (2,2)
> There are two equilibria for this game, either combination of
> Drive/Swerve or Swerve/Drive. If I can make a binding promise to you,
> before the game, that I will not swerve (perhaps by throwing my
> steering wheel out the window) then your only rational decision is to
> swerve. So I guarantee a favourable outcome for me by making an
> appropriate promise/threat.
> My question is: has anyone done a full analysis of this kind of
> promise-making? It seems fairly elementary to me. I'm interested in
> doing some research in this area, but I'm rather new to game-theory.
> I'm familiar with most of the standard text-book stuff, but text-books
> are always behind the times. Is anyone out there up with the state of
> play? Are there any papers I ought to read?
> Malcolm

Very interesting. However, in both of these cases you assume that the
promise is kept. While I will admit that in the Chicken game throwing
the steering wheel out the window would be a binding promise, what if
simultaneously the other player did the same thing? Your reward drops
from 3 to 0 immediately. In the Prisoner Dilemma, a similar effect
happens. Prisoner A can make a promise to the B, in order to recieve
a promise from B that B will not sell A out. Then, A will sell out B
in case B might sell out A. The idea of that could nullify all
effects of a previous promise. However, it is an interesting concept,
and I am not very experienced in game theory. Some papers you might
like to read are anything by John Nash. Yes, I know that it is
nothing new, but he was a pioneer in the field and it would be good to
read anything by him. I hope you have success in working out your

(Just Another Perl C Unix Hacker)

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