Stanford University is offering a free online college course in Game Theory. It starts March 19 and promises to be that awesome college class that you always wished you could take but couldn’t squeeze in between your electrical engineering core classes and that pass/fail you took in Anthro 101 to fulfill the liberal arts requirement. Popularized by movies such as “A Beautiful Mind”, game theory is the mathematical modeling of strategic interaction among rational (and irrational) agents. Beyond what we call ‘games’ in common language, such as chess, poker, soccer, etc., it includes the modeling of conflict among nations, political campaigns, competition among firms, and trading behavior in markets such as the NYSE. How could you begin to model eBay, Google keyword auctions, and peer to peer file-sharing networks, without accounting for the incentives of the people using them? The course will provide the basics: representing games and strategies, the extensive form (which computer scientists call game trees), Bayesian games (modeling things like auctions), repeated and stochastic games, and more. They’ll include a variety of examples including classic games and a few applications.
You must be comfortable with mathematical thinking and rigorous arguments. Relatively little specific math is required; you should be familiar with basic probability theory (for example, you should know what a conditional probability is) and with basic calculus (for instance, taking a derivative). No university credit is offered, but you can watch the lectures at your leisure and it’s 100% FREE!
Faculty include computer scientist and an economist.