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Graduate courses

Departments' graduate courses for PhD-students.


Syllabus for

Academic year
ENM140 - Game theory and rationality
Syllabus adopted 2014-02-12 by Head of Programme (or corresponding)
Owner: MPCAS
7,5 Credits
Grading: TH - Five, Four, Three, Not passed
Education cycle: Second-cycle
Major subject: Engineering Physics

The current course round has limited places. Please contact the student center if you are not able to add the course to your selection.
Teaching language: English
The course is open for exchange students
Block schedule: A
Maximum participants: 25

Course elements   Credit distribution   Examination dates
Sp1 Sp2 Sp3 Sp4 Summer course No Sp
0114 Project 7,5c Grading: TH   7,5c    

In programs



Professor  Kristian Lindgren

Course evaluation:

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In order to be eligible for a second cycle course the applicant needs to fulfil the general and specific entry requirements of the programme that owns the course. (If the second cycle course is owned by a first cycle programme, second cycle entry requirements apply.)
Exemption from the eligibility requirement: Applicants enrolled in a programme at Chalmers where the course is included in the study programme are exempted from fulfilling these requirements.

Course specific prerequisites

A bachelor's degree within natural-, engineering- or economical sciences and some experience of programming/modelling.


The aim of this course is to give an introduction to game theory and evolutionary models within the field, in order to inspire and engage the students so that they can identify and explore game-theoretic dilemmas or situations during the studies as well as in their future work-life. This is achieved through examining basic game-theoretic concepts including the concept of rationality. The students, typically at the end of their undergraduate studies, are tasked individually as well as in group with acquiring knowledge about a series of game-theoretic applications. We focus on the effects of individual rationality on collective outcomes, as well as the resulting behavior of agents with different strategies in a large population. We cover theory of general principles of rational action and examine known limitations on how well this describes human behavior in reality. Secondary aims include getting hands-on experience of modelling in a game-theoretic context as well as training in reading and presenting scientific articles. The course offers students a possibility to deepen their understanding of their subject area through project-based studies of applications within their respective field.

Learning outcomes (after completion of the course the student should be able to)

After completed course the student should be able to:
  • formulate a game given a specific strategic interaction of interest within their own discipline
  • summarize and present game-theoretic literature corresponding to that assigned during the course
  • define and apply models of decision-making agents with actions, interactions and strategies
  • construct, implement and simulate a set of their own strategies that will compete in a computer-based tournament
  • describe and explain two basic theories of rationality and their known limitations
  • use different techniques to find the Nash equilibria in games
  • differentiate between and apply extensive (repeated) and normal (or strategic) form games
  • compare and reflect upon the expected outcome from the backward induction principle with situations in real life and the limitations it highlights for the use of the game theory and the concept of rationality
  • eliminate strategies from a game based on domination arguments
  • identify, analyze and argue about the existence of social dilemmas, such as the tragedy of the commons and public goods games including examples of natural, economic and social origin
  • define and apply the concepts of Pareto optimality
  • define and solve for mixed-strategy equilibrium
  • differentiate between equilibrium in game theory and stable strategies in evolutionary game theory


Game theory is the scientific study of strategic interaction between rational agents, involving analysis of phenomena such as cooperation and conflict in a wide range of biological, economic and social systems. Game theory and its extensions are continuously applied to understand situations such as climate negotiations, how plants grow their roots and distribute seeds under competition, to warfare and auctions.

The content of the course will be influenced by the students attending it (i.e. other topics may be added to the following list). Topics covered in previous years¿ version of the course include:
Basic game-theoretic concepts, theory and principles of rational decision-making, backward induction and the rationality paradox, analysis of repeated interaction, tragedy of the commons, evolutionary game theory, public good games, agent-based models in economics, behavioral economics and the environment, bargaining theory and dynamic games.


  • One weekly lecture/discussion led by a teacher
  • One weekly student-led discussion meeting: groups of two-three students prepare and organize a discussion around a topic (recommended topics will be suggest) based on two or more papers. All students should read the papers before the meeting.
  • One course project (33-50% of the course credits) with report and presentation
  • One or two computer exercises including a tournament between the students computerized strategies
  • 2-5 guest lectures


Game theory basics:
Selected chapters and examples from:
Fudenberg and Tirole, Game Theory (1991)
Herbert Gintis, Game Theory Evolving (2009)

Applications of game theory:
A number of selected research articles with application of game theory within biological, economic and social systems.


Project report. Oral presentation. Co-chairing a student lead discussion meeting. Short compulsory assignments. Compulsory attendance at lectures (50-67%).

Published: Fri 18 Dec 2009. Modified: Mon 28 Nov 2016