Game theory for programmers

Course Dates: 26/06/22
Time: 10:00 - 17:00
Location: Online
Game theory offers a precise framework for thinking about human interactions and rational decision-making. A great toolbox for game designers, economists, programmers and decision-makers of all kinds.
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
Book your place
In stock
Full fee £89.00 Senior fee £71.00 Concession £45.00

Course Code: CLAM12

Sun, day, 26 Jun - 26 Jun '22

Duration: 1 session

Or call to enrol:020 7831 7831

Any questions?
or call 020 7492 2515

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What is the course about?

The great discovery of game theory is that the way people think about playing simple games can give us insight into much more serious and complex phenomena. Game theory has been especially influential in economics and biology but it’s also a great collection of techniques for programmers and designers of all kinds of user interactions and experiences.

For some games it’s possible to find quite simple strategies that always win or, as in the case of Tic Tac Toe, at least never lose. For others, strategy is deep and hard to find, but the process of figuring it out leads to techniques you can re-use in other contexts, such as the famous approach of min-maxing (although this term is often misused).

Our key examples involve very simple, artificial games that are introduced as we go along; these can be given very precise specifications and make it as easy as possible to see the ideas. We’ll make reference to some classic games such as chess or poker but it won’t matter much if you’re not familiar with those.

We will also look at some games designed to test the boundaries of the theory – some of which you can play with your friends -- and end with a discussion of evolutionary games and their connection with some fields of artificial intelligence.

Note that this course does not involve any programming: we will work with pen-and-paper games.

This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera.
- Earphones/headphones/speakers.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.

What will we cover?

• Payoff matrices
• Symmetric and asymmetric games
• Matrix games
• Min/max strategies
• Nash equilibria
• Paradoxes and limitations of game theory.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

• Solve abstract games in reasonably simple cases.
• Make and justify decisions involving payoff matrices.
• Use min/max techniques to find a winning strategy.
• Assess the likely solvability of a given game.
• Play some games that resist systematic analysis.
• Describe some aspects of evolutionary game theory.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

This is an introductory course: no previous knowledge of coding, mathematics or specific games is necessary.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

The course is taught through a mixture of lecture, discussion and practical exercises. There is no work to do outside class.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?


When I've finished, what course can I do next?

Please click here to view our Programming and Maths courses.

Rich Cochrane

Rich is a programmer, writer and educator with a particular interest in creative practice. In his previous career he worked as a software developer in the CIty, first at a dot-com startup and later at a top-tier investment bank where he worked mostly on trading floor systems and got to play with a wide range of languages and technologies. He now teaches coding and maths-related courses full time. Besides his work at City Lit he also teaches at Central Saint Martins, the Architecture Association and the Photographer's Gallery and is the author of two books about mathematics. His technical collaborations with artists have been shown at, among others, the Hayward gallery, the V&A, the ICA and Camden Arts Centre. He has a BSc in Mathematics from the Open University. He also has a BA in English Literature and a PhD in philosophy (both from Cardiff). He continues to teach a little philosophy and literature, especially as they intersect with his other interests, and as a partner in Minimum Labyrinth he has brought these ideas to wider audiences in collaboration with the Museum of London, the Barbican and various private sponsors.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.