Political Science W135

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Political Science W135 - Game Theory in Social Sciences (4 units): Political science deals with the behavior of individuals in settings of collective or group choice. The best course of action for any individual to take in such settings generally depends on the course of action taken by others with whom they interact. For instance, the best strategy by a candidate in an election campaign might depend on the strategy adopted by other candidates. The best approach for achieving gains in a peace settlement for one nation-state depends on how other nation-states will react. Game theory is the analysis of decision making in situations where one individual's best action depends on the actions taken by other individuals. This course provides a relatively non-technical introduction to game theory and its application in social science, especially political science and also economics.

The purposes of the course are to give students a sense of the field of game theory and how political scientists use it in making arguments about how government and politics work, to develop students' intuition about strategic situations in everyday life, and to develop students' analytical capabilities generally. Upon completion of the course, students will be able to depict social situations as simple game theoretic models, analyze those models to understand how the behaviors of the individuals involved are mutually reinforcing and apply computer-based tools to evaluate decisions under conditions of uncertainty.

Instructor's Note on Course Background: The course requires (and helps develop) the ability to think abstractly and to read formal expressions. These abilities are often correlated with mathematical ability. That said, the actual level of mathematics required in the course is relatively light. Furthermore, it is my conviction that every student at Berkeley can fully succeed in this course. If you find yourself struggling or need extra help, do not hesitate to let me know as soon as you recognize this. You will succeed if you are willing to think and work, but you have to help me help you.

Class Number: 12406
Final Exam:: Friday, August 14, 2020 from 1 p.m. - 4 p.m. (Final exam date is tentative; subject to change by professor)
Register/Add Deadline: June 19, 2020 at 5:00 pm Pacific Standard Time (PT)