Tag Archives: game theory

Semester Wrap-up: Game Theory at HKS

My game theory class at HKS wrapped up with a final exam a little more than a week ago after a two week reading period. Taking a class at HKS was pretty different from an MIT class.

For one thing, it was a fairly different set of people. While all the SDM students have an engineering background and even a fair number of Sloanies come from some sort of quasi-technical background, very very few of the people at HKS seem to have that sort of background. So they tended to approach problems a little bit differently and think about things from a different angle. This policy angle also really started to become apparent in the presentations that we had to deliver at the end of the course — many of the games proposed were based around political conflicts or things of that sort. Very different from what you’d get in an MIT class!

Overall, the class was quite good. The professor knew what she was talking about and did a good job of keeping the class moving along in most cases. The examples were a pretty wide mix drawn from a variety of different cases rather than just being based in one subject area. There were four problem sets over the course of the semester and they did a good job of preparing me for the final. Compared to an MIT game theory class, I suspect there was a bit less of the math details behind the theory but with what I was looking to get out of it, that was perfect.

So I enjoyed the experience and the course and am glad I took it. As far as applicability, a good chunk of why I took it is that I’ve done some reading on game theory in the past and so wanted to learn a bit more about it. I don’t think I’ll be sitting down and drawing out game trees for things, but it’s a nice framework to simply sit down and think about how people might respond. And most importantly, I had fun in the class.

Spring classes

The spring semester for me started today since I’m taking a class at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.  The class that I’m taking is Game Theory with Applications to Strategic Decision Making.  I’ve had an interest in game theory for quite a while, just because it’s kind of neat things to think about.  And I’ve heard good things about the KSG course, so figured it would be good.  As an added bonus, it fits in pretty well with my schedule for the semester, although I have an easier time getting to Harvard since I usually bike.

Anyway, first day of class was today and it was fun.  It looks like the general structure of the class is doing readings, having some discussion, playing through a game to show some of the strategy and then looking back at it.  An added bonus for today’s class was a clip from The Princess Bride — the part where Vizzini and Wesley have their battle of the wits.  Which, really, if both parties were playing by the same rules (which they weren’t) is a case that you really end up wanting a random strategy.

More almost certainly to come from the class over the course of the semester, and if you end up at one of the game nights which we occasionally hold, please excuse me while I over-analyze them.