Integrated Sciences Program Integrated Sciences Program Faculty of Science
University of British Columbia


ISCI 330 - Game Theory
Overview | Grades | Final ProjectTexts | Schedule | Handouts]
2006-2007: ISCI 330 - Game Theory
     Term: 2
     Meeting Times: Tuesday and Thursday, 3:30 - 5:00 PM
     First Class: Tuesday, January 9th
     Location: McLeod 214
     Instructors: Jeff Fletcher and Kevin Leyton-Brown
     Instructors' Office Locations: BioSci 3340 (Fletcher); CICSR 185 (Leyton-Brown)
     Office Hours: Immediately after class, or by appointment
Course Description:  Game theory involves the study of cooperation and competition. It provides a theoretical framework for reasoning about a wide variety of phenomena including, for instance, the price of gasoline, nuclear proliferation, who pays for dinner when friends dine out, or the biological conditions necessary for the evolution of cooperation. This course presents the basic ideas of game theory, starting with how to represent and classify different kinds of interactions in terms of games where players choose among alternative strategies in order to maximize their own benefit. Game theory is useful across a broad range of scientific disciplines because situations involving conflicts of interest are ubiquitous, and because the meaning of “players” in game theory is very general. For example, players could be individual genes competing for representation in subsequent generations or whole countries negotiating trade agreements with each other.

Emphasis in the course is on understanding the findings of game theory and its usefulness in analyzing a variety of interesting phenomena, rather than on the purely technical aspects of the theory. This course should be of interest to a wide variety of students, from those interested in math, computer science and economics to biologists and social scientists--really, anyone wishing to gain formal tools for reasoning about cooperation and competition in social interactions.  The course emphasizes student participation, featuring seminar-style discussion as well as traditional lectures. The course will culminate in a small research project in which students survey existing literature and possibly explore open research questions.

Course Topics: Overall, we will survey some basic topics in game theory and investigate ways in which this theory has been applied in biology, computer science and other fields. Specific topic include: Games: normal-form; extensive-form; repeated; stochastic; Bayesian.  We will also discuss evolutionary game theory and social choice theory.  If time permits, we will also investigate applications of game theory to the design of economic mechanisms such as auctions.


Overall Grading Scheme
Warning: We reserve the right to make changes to the exact percentage breakdowns shown here.  However, the following grading scheme should be approximately accurate, and indicates the components of the class upon which you will be graded.
Assignments 20 %
Midterm 15 %
Final 30 %
Project writeup 20 %  (12% instructor; 8% peer)
+ up to 2 bonus marks
Peer Review of Other Students' Final Project Papers 5 %
Participation in Discussions; Attendance 10 %

Curving Grades and Peer Review: Final grades will be curved to give the overall distribution of grades a desired mean and standard deviation. Bonus marks will be applied after grades are curved.  Peer review is an important component of the class, and will be taken into account when evaluating papers.  Since this is a game theory course, a grading scheme has been constructed that does not provide students with any ability to influence their own grades by reviewing other students strategically.  The curve for a given student x will be calculated disregarding x's presentation and paper reviews of other students.

Assignments:  The course will include assignments.  Assignments will probably not be weighted equally: weighting will be proportional to the total number of available points.  In particular, the last assignment may be weighted substantially more heavily since it will cover material not reviewed on the midterm exam. Tentative dates on which assignments will become available and due dates are given in the schedule below.

Assignments are to be handed in IN CLASS at the start of lecture on the due date. However, every student is allotted three "late days", which allow work to be handed in late without penalty on three days or parts of days during the term.  How late does something have to be to use up a late day? A day is defined as a 24-hour block of time beginning at 3:30 PM on the day an assignment is due.  To use a late day, write the number of late days claimed on the first page of your assignment and submit it, either electronically or in the physical hand-in location (TBA). You can also just bring it to class if it's less than an hour late. Examples:

  • Handing in an assignment at the end of lecture on the day it is due consumes one late day. 
  • Handing in an assignment at 10:15 the morning after it is due consumes one late day.
  • Handing in an assignment at 4:30 the day after an assignment is due consumes two late days.

The purpose of late days is to allow students the flexibility to manage unexpected obstacles to coursework that arise during the course of the term, such as travel, moderate illness, conflicts with other courses, extracurricular obligations, job interviews, etc.  Thus, additional late days will NOT be granted except under truly exceptional circumstances.  Late assignments will no longer be accepted from students who have used up all of their late days.

Academic Conduct: Submitting the work of another person as your own (i.e. plagiarism) constitutes academic misconduct, as does communication with others (either as donor or recipient) in ways other than those permitted for homework and exams. Such actions will not be tolerated. Specifically, for this course, the rules are as follows:

  • Assignments are to be done alone. You may not, under any circumstances, submit any solution not written by yourself, look at another student's solution (this includes the solutions from assignments completed in the past), or previous sample solutions, and you may not share your own work with others. All work for this course is required to be new work and cannot be submitted as part of an assignment in another course without the approval of all instructors involved.
  • You may, however, discuss your solutions and design decisions with your fellow students. In other words, you can talk about the assignments, but you cannot look at or copy other people's answers.

Violations of these rules constitute very serious academic misconduct, and they are subject to penalties ranging from a grade of zero on the current and *all* the previous assignments to indefinite suspension from the University. More information on procedures and penalties can be found in the Computer Science Department's Policy on Plagiarism and collaboration and in  UBC regulations on student discipline . If you are in any doubt about the interpretation of any of these rules, please consult one of the instructors.

  Final Project
ISCI 330 will culminate with a final project that allows students to explore material that was not covered in class and to share that material with other students.  The project involves students writing a paper on a topic of interest within Game Theory, and then reading and evaluating each other's papers.  Here is the "pipeline":
  • submit a one-page outline of the paper you intend to write to the instructors (this step is only necessary if you pick a topic other than those suggested below)
  • let us know by next Thursday (March 29) which topic area you are working on (if not one of the choices below, you will need to get your topic approved by the instructors)
  • investigate the topic and write your paper (~8-10 pages double spaced, 1 inch margins and 12pt font, and referenced as appropriate)
  • hand in your paper, which will be sent out to other students for peer review (see grading criteria below)
  • perform peer review of papers from other students in the class

The topic of the final project need not be too ambitious; if you don’t take one of our suggested topics it’s fine to perform a survey of a subarea in game theory or a compare-and-contrast study of two or more influential papers.  If you plan to do more work in the area, you can also use the project to develop your own ideas.  Here are three suggested topic areas and a fuller description of the project. Please note that assignment late days cannot be applied to the final project.

We will be using a new text under development, which is currently only available in electronic form.  In class an address has been provided from which this book can be downloaded. Please do not distribute this file.  Also, please note that this book may be updated throughout the course; thus, we recommend printing individual chapters as we come to them, or simply using the book electronically, rather than printing the whole book at the beginning.
If you'd like to do additional reading on Game Theory, or to get another perspective on material covered in class, we recommend the following supplemental books:
M. Osborne and A. Rubinstein, A Course in Game Theory
MIT Press, 1994, ISBN: 0262650401
D. Fudenberg and Tirole, Game Theory
MIT Press, 1991, ISBN: 0262061414

Additional reading is available in the CS reading room.  They are available in a special section, under the heading "game theory reading group".  Just ask the librarian if you can't find them!


Here is the tentative schedule for ISCI 330. Topics and due dates for assignments and project may change. 

Date Lecture Topic  (textbook sections) Milestones
Tues., Jan. 09 Course Introduction/Overview (Introduction)  
Thur., Jan. 11 Utility Theory (3.1, Appendix C)  
Tues., Jan. 16 Game Theory Intro (3.2 - 3.2.3) HW 1 out
Thur., Jan. 18 Analyzing Games: Pareto Optimality (3.2.2, 3.3.5)  
Tues., Jan. 23 Analyzing Games: Nash Equilibrium (3.2.4, 3.3.1)  
Thur., Jan. 25 Analyzing Games: Nash Equilibrium Recap  
Tues., Jan. 30 Computing Nash Equilibria  
Thur., Feb. 01 Maximin and Minmax Strategies (3.3.2) HW 1 due
Tues., Feb. 06 Dominance (3.3.3) HW 2 out
Thur., Feb. 08 Iterated Dominance; Extensive Form (3.3.3; 5.1.1)  
Tues., Feb. 13 Extensive Form Continued (5.1.2)  
Thur., Feb. 15 Extensive Form Games: Nash Equilibrium (5.1.3) HW 2 due; HW 3 out
Tues., Feb. 20 BREAK  
Thur., Feb. 22 BREAK  
Tues., Feb. 27 Class Presentations HW 3; Sub-game Perfection (5.1.3) HW 3 due
Thur., Mar. 01 Class Presentations HW 3 cont.; Backwards Induction (5.1.4)  
Tues., Mar. 06 Imperfect Information Extensive Form Games (5.2)  
Thur., Mar. 08 Midterm exam  
Tues., Mar. 13 Repeated Games (6.1)  
Thur., Mar. 15 Evolutionary Game Theory Intro  
Tues., Mar. 20 Evolutionary Game Theory iterated PD, TFT, ESS (13.7.2)  
Thur., Mar. 22 Guest Lecture: Jabus Tyerman, Testing Adaptive Dynamics in the Lab  
Tues., Mar. 27 ESS continued (same slides as Mar. 20)  
Thur., Mar. 29 Online Game Theory Exercise with ISCI 422 * (meets at LSK 303E)  
Tues., Apr. 03

Folk Theorem (6.1.2)

HW 4 out
Thur., Apr. 05 Folk Theorem continued (6.1.2)  
Tues., Apr. 10 Bayesian Games (6.1.3) HW4 due
Thur., Apr. 12 Auctions (9) Projects due
  • Final exam: April 16 (Monday) 3:30
  • Projects due: April 12 (electronic submission by midnight)
  • Project reviews due: April 27 (hardcopy submission by 5:00 pm)


  Peer Review
  • Student reports:
    1. Alana
    2. Alma
    3. Kristine
    4. Lindsay
    5. Mike
    6. Nicole
    7. Ronan
    8. Sebastian
    9. Soha
    10. Tagh
    11. Vanessa
    12. Yuko
  • Grading form
  • Who grades what?:
    • Alana: 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11
    • Alma: 4, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
    • Kristine: 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11
    • Lindsay: 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11
    • Mike: 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 10, 11
    • Nicole: 2, 4, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
    • Ronan: 1, 3, 4, 5, 8, 11, 12
    • Sebastian: 1, 2, 5, 6, 9, 10, 12
    • Soha: 1, 2, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12
    • Tagh: 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12
    • Vanessa: 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12
    • Yuko: 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Last updated July 06, 2011