Subgames within Large Games and the Heuristic of Imitation

Studia Logica 102 (2):361-388 (2014)
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Abstract

We study repeated normal form games where the number of players is large. We argue that it is interesting to look at such games as being divided into subgames, each of which we call a neighbourhood. The structure of such a game is given by a graph G whose nodes are players and edges denote visibility. The neighbourhoods are maximal cliques in G. The game proceeds in rounds where in each round the players of every clique X of G play a strategic form game among each other. A player at a node v strategises based on what she can observe, i.e., the strategies and the outcomes in the previous round of the players at vertices adjacent to v. Based on this, the player may switch strategies in the same neighbourhood, or migrate to another neighbourhood.We are interested in addressing questions regarding the eventual stability of such games. We incrementally impose constraints on the ‘types’ of the players. First, we look at players who are unconstrained in their strategising abilities, in that, players who may use unbounded memory. We then consider the case of memoryless players. We show that in both these cases the eventual stability of the game can be characterised in terms of potentials. We then introduce a simple modal logic in which the types of the players can be specified. We show that when the players play according to these specified types, it can be effectively decided whether the game stabilises. Finally, we look at the important heuristic of imitation. Simple imitative strategies can be specified in the logic introduced by us. We show that in a population of optimisers and imitators, we can decide how ‘worse-off’ the imitators are by playing imitative strategies rather than optimal ones

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