Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS) 2002
December 9, 2002
Vancouver, Canada

Computer and Information Sciences
Institute for Research in Cognitive Science
University of Pennsylvania

Research web site:


Recently there has been renewed interest in game theory in several research disciplines, with its uses ranging from the modeling of evolution to the design of distributed protocols. In the AI community, game theory is emerging as the dominant formalism for studying strategic and cooperative interaction in multi-agent systems. Classical work provides rich mathematical foundations and equilibrium concepts, but relatively little in the way of computational and representational insights that would allow game theory to scale up to large, complex systems. The rapidly emerging field of computational game theory is addressing such algorithmic issues, and this tutorial will provide a survey of developments so far. As the NIPS community is well-poised to make significant contributions to this area, special emphasis will be placed on connections to more familiar topics. The tentative outline is:

  • Examples of Strategic Conflict as Matrix Games
  • Basics Definitions of (Matrix) Game Theory
  • Notions of Equilibrium: Overview
  • Definition and Existence of Nash Equilibria
  • Computing Nash Equilibria for Matrix Games
  • Graphical Models for Multiplayer Game Theory
  • Computing Nash Equilibria in Graphical Games
  • Other Equilibrium Concepts: Correlated Equilibria, Correlated Equilibria and Graphical Games, Evolutionary Stable Strategies, Nash's Bargaining Problem, Cooperative Equilibria
  • Learning in Repeated Games: Classical Approaches; Regret Minimizing Algorithms
  • Games with State: Connections to Reinforcement Learning
  • Other Directions and Conclusions

    The tutorial will be self-contained, assuming no prior knowledge of game theory.


  • Here are postscript slides for the main body of the tutorial.
  • Here they are in PDF.
  • Here are powerpoint slides on the topic of graphical models and game theory.


    Here I will try to collect some pointers to articles discussed in, or related to, the tutorial presentation.

    Basics of Game Theory:

    [McKelvey and McLennan, 1996]
    Richard D. McKelvey and Andrew McLennan. Computation of equilibria in finite games. In Handbook of Computational Economics, volume I, pages 87-142. 1996.

    [Nash, 1951]
    J. F. Nash. Non-cooperative games. Annals of Mathematics, 54:286-295, 1951.

    [Owen, 1995]
    G. Owen. Game Theory. Academic Press, UK, 1995.

    Graphical Models for Game Theory:

    [Kakade et al., 2001]
    S. Kakade, M. Kearns, J. Langford, L. Ortiz. Correlated equilibria and graphical games. Preprint, 2002.

    [Kearns et al., 2001]
    M. Kearns, M. Littman, and S. Singh. Graphical models for game theory. In Proceedings of the Conference on Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence, pages 253-260, 2001.

    [Koller and Milch, 2001]
    Daphne Koller and Brian Milch. Multi-agent influence diagrams for representing and solving games. Submitted, 2001.

    [LaMura, 2000]
    P. La Mura. Game networks. In Proceedings of the 16th Conference on Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence (UAI), pages 335-342, 2000.

    [Littman et al., 2002]
    M. Littman, M. Kearns, and S. Singh. An efficient exact algorithm for singly connected graphical games. In Neural Information Processing Systems, 2002.

    [Ortiz and Kearns, 2003]
    L. Ortiz and M. Kearns. Nash propagation for loopy graphical games. In Neural Information Processing Systems, 2003. To appear.

    [Vickrey and Koller, 2002]
    D. Vickrey and D. Koller. Multi-agent algorithms for solving graphical games. In Proceedings of the National Conference on Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), 2002. To appear.

    Other Compact Game Representations:

    [Kearns and Mansour, 2002]
    M. Kearns and Y. Mansour. Efficient Nash computation in large population games with bounded influence. Proceedings of UAI, 2002.

    [Monderer and Shapley, 1996]
    D. Monderer and L. Shapley. Potential games. Games and Economic Behavior, 14:124-143, 1996.

    [Rosenthal, 1973]
    R. Rosenthal. A class of games possessing pure-strategy Nash equilibria. International Journal of Game Theory, 2:65-67, 1973.

    [Voorneveld et al., 1999]
    M. Voorneveld, P. Borm, F. Van Megen, S. Tijs, and G. Facchini. Congestion games and potentials reconsidered. International Game Theory Review, 1(3 and 4):283-299, 1999.

    Correlated Equilibria:

    [Aumann, 1974]
    R.J. Aumann. Subjectivity and correlation in randomized strategies. Journal of Mathematical Economics, 1, 1974.

    [Aumann, 1987]
    R.J. Aumann. Correlated equilibrium as an expression of Bayesian rationality. Econometrica, 55, 1987.

    [Foster and Vohra, 1997]
    D. Foster and R. Vohra. Calibrated learning and correlated equilibrium. Games and Economic Behavior, 1997.

    [Gilboa and Zemel, 1989]
    I. Gilboa and E. Zemel. Nash and correlated equilibria: some complexity considerations. Games and Economic Behavior, 1:80-93, 1989.

    Evolutionary Game Theory:

    [Maynard Smith, 1982]
    John Maynard Smith. Evolution and the Theory of Games. Cambridge University Press, 1982.

    [Weibull, 1995]
    J. Weibull. Evolutionary Game Theory. The MIT Press, 1995.

    Learning in Repeated Games:

    [Foster and Vohra, 1999]
    D. Foster and R. Vohra. Regret in the on-line decision problem. Games and Economic Behavior, pages 7 -- 36, 1999.

    [Fudenberg and Levine, 1999]
    D. Fudenberg and D. Levine. The Theory of Learning in Games. MIT Press, 1999.

    Stochastic Games and Reinforcement Learning:

    [Boutilier et al., 1999]
    Craig Boutilier, Moisés Goldszmidt, and Bikash Sabata. Continuous value function approximation for sequential bidding policies. In Proceedings of the 15th Conference on Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence, 1999.

    [Brafman and Tennenholtz, 2000]
    Ronen I. Brafman and Moshe Tennenholtz. A near-optimal polynomial time algorithm for learning in certain classes of stochastic games. Artificial Intelligence, 121(1-2):31-47, 2000.

    [Hu and Wellman, 1998]
    Junling Hu and Michael P. Wellman. Multiagent reinforcement learning: Theoretical framework and an algorithm. In Proceedings of the Fifteenth International Conference on Machine Learning, pages 242-250, 1998.

    [Kearns et al., 2000]
    M. Kearns, Y. Mansour and S. Singh. Fast planning in stochastic games. Proceedings of UAI , pages 309-316, 2000.

    [Shapley, 1953]
    L.S. Shapley. Stochastic games. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 39:1095-1100, 1953.