Political Science | Institutional Analysis and Governance
Y204 | 20312 | Bianco
This course is an introduction to game theory – techniques for
modeling (predicting, explaining) strategic behavior by individuals
interacting with other individuals. The key expectation is that an
individual’s “best” choice (defined in terms of their own goals or
preferences) depends on what others are doing.
Game theory is a fundamental tool for making sense of many aspects of
politics, from campaigns to governing, as well as the behavior of
organizations and nations. Many of the findings and results you will
see in other classes are based on game-theoretic models. This course
will emphasize the tools and techniques themselves, leaving
applications for another day.
The textbook is Binford, Playing for Real, which is available at the
bookstore and at the usual on-line sites.
A word to the wise. To do well in this course, you must be
comfortable with algebra and other mathematical techniques, with
thinking abstractly, and with learning a wide range of new concepts
and ideas that may or may not make sense to you at first glance.
Nothing in the syllabus is beyond the abilities of an average
undergraduate – but this is not a class for hangers-on or people who
are “just looking for something new.”. It will require hard work and
thought, not to mention regular attendance. Read through the
syllabus, and have a look at the text -- if the course material
doesn’t excite you, move on; there are plenty of other interesting
classes to take.
Class requirements fall into two categories: weekly problem sets
(2/3), and participation in class proceedings (1/3). (NO MIDTERM, NO
FINAL.) We will spend a lot of time during class time working in
groups or individually on problems in concepts, and presenting results
on the board. Again, be sure that you are comfortable with all of
these requirements before registering for the class.