# Game theory for people who like words and pictures?

January 26, 2009 1:27 PM Subscribe

Best books, websites, lecture series on game theory and its applications for smart people who understand mathematics but can't stand trawling through pages of unnecessary complex formulae?

The Art of Strategy

The Thinker's Toolkit - this one covers decision making in general and applies some game theory like expected value, decision trees, etc.

posted by sherlockt at 2:00 PM on January 26, 2009

The Thinker's Toolkit - this one covers decision making in general and applies some game theory like expected value, decision trees, etc.

posted by sherlockt at 2:00 PM on January 26, 2009

Game theory is a huge, diverse field - are there any particular branches or applications that interest you? Are you looking for broad surveys, or focused applications? Are you looking for a history of game theory, or recent developments?

Tom Schelling (2005 co-winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences) wrote a fantastic book called The Strategy of Conflict that is a classic in the field and has some great little applications of game theory to social problems.

Ken Binmore has written several good books that provide pretty good discussions of game theory and possible applications, including two books (Playing Fair and Just Playing) about the application of game theory to moral and social philosophy, even if his takes on Kant and other philosophers are a bit off, and his philosophical sophistication is not entirely apparent in these works. He also wrote a decent "Introduction" to the field.

My former professor, H. Peyton Young, wrote a fantastic book on evolutionary game theory and the emergence of institutional structures called Individual Strategy and Social Structure.

Are any of these in line with what you're looking for?

posted by dilettanti at 2:31 PM on January 26, 2009

Tom Schelling (2005 co-winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences) wrote a fantastic book called The Strategy of Conflict that is a classic in the field and has some great little applications of game theory to social problems.

Ken Binmore has written several good books that provide pretty good discussions of game theory and possible applications, including two books (Playing Fair and Just Playing) about the application of game theory to moral and social philosophy, even if his takes on Kant and other philosophers are a bit off, and his philosophical sophistication is not entirely apparent in these works. He also wrote a decent "Introduction" to the field.

My former professor, H. Peyton Young, wrote a fantastic book on evolutionary game theory and the emergence of institutional structures called Individual Strategy and Social Structure.

Are any of these in line with what you're looking for?

posted by dilettanti at 2:31 PM on January 26, 2009

I like

posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:58 PM on January 26, 2009

*The Compleat Strategyst*in general, but I'm not sure it's the right recommendation for this particular question. It focuses almost exclusively on the analysis of constant-sum, two-player games. Which means it doesn't address key concepts such as the prisoner's dilemma, a non-constant sum game. I think if you're looking for applications of game theory to economics, it may not be what you're looking for. And it is math-heavy, although the math is not difficult (nothing beyond basic arithmetic, IIRC).posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:58 PM on January 26, 2009

dilettanti: "

The particular application I'm interested in relates generally to the law of contract - in particular information disclosure decisions. So anything specifically about this would be very useful. However I am interested in getting to the core of the analysis and results so anything that really helps you understand how it operates and its underlying assumptions and foundations would be equally useful.

posted by vizsla at 3:05 PM on January 26, 2009

*Game theory is a huge, diverse field - are there any particular branches or applications that interest you? Are you looking for broad surveys, or focused applications? Are you looking for a history of game theory, or recent developments?*"The particular application I'm interested in relates generally to the law of contract - in particular information disclosure decisions. So anything specifically about this would be very useful. However I am interested in getting to the core of the analysis and results so anything that really helps you understand how it operates and its underlying assumptions and foundations would be equally useful.

posted by vizsla at 3:05 PM on January 26, 2009

*I am interested in getting to the core of the analysis*....

*how it operates and its underlying assumptions and foundations*

Game theory is a branch of math. If you want to get to the core of the analysis, I don't really think the formulae are unnecessary. They are the underlying foundations, they are how it operates, and they are the core.

posted by escabeche at 3:12 PM on January 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

vizsla:

Bernard Salanié wrote a book called The Economics of Contracts that is pretty good - it has some formulae in it, to be sure, but doesn't fetishize them. It's aimed more at Ph.D. Econ students, though - if you're looking for the sort of text that might be used in a law school course, for instance, you might want to check out one of Kaplow and Shavell's books (which I have not read or reviewed, but I took a class from Kaplow and suspect that the books cover the basics, and I'm

posted by dilettanti at 9:19 PM on January 26, 2009

*The particular application I'm interested in relates generally to the law of contract - in particular information disclosure decisions.*Bernard Salanié wrote a book called The Economics of Contracts that is pretty good - it has some formulae in it, to be sure, but doesn't fetishize them. It's aimed more at Ph.D. Econ students, though - if you're looking for the sort of text that might be used in a law school course, for instance, you might want to check out one of Kaplow and Shavell's books (which I have not read or reviewed, but I took a class from Kaplow and suspect that the books cover the basics, and I'm

*sure*they are not overburdened with formulae).posted by dilettanti at 9:19 PM on January 26, 2009

Thanks for the answers. They're all good and I have ordered some of them as a result. Just highlighting dilettanti's answers which had a lot of good relevant content in them.

posted by vizsla at 12:14 AM on January 27, 2009

posted by vizsla at 12:14 AM on January 27, 2009

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The Compleat Strategyst: Being a Primer on the Theory of Games of Strategy

posted by aquafortis at 1:55 PM on January 26, 2009