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Paperback | $34.00 Short | £23.95 | ISBN: 9780262692199 | 328 pp. | 5.9 x 8.9 in | September 1998

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Evolutionary Games and Equilibrium Selection


Evolutionary game theory is one of the most active and rapidly growing areas of research in economics. Unlike traditional game theory models, which assume that all players are fully rational and have complete knowledge of details of the game, evolutionary models assume that people choose their strategies through a trial-and-error learning process in which they gradually discover that some strategies work better than others. In games that are repeated many times, low-payoff strategies tend to be weeded out, and an equilibrium may emerge.

Larry Samuelson has been one of the main contributors to the evolutionary game theory literature. In Evolutionary Games and Equilibrium Selection, he examines the interplay between evolutionary game theory and the equilibrium selection problem in noncooperative games. After an overview of the basic issues of game theory and a presentation of the basic models, the book goes on to discuss evolutionary stability, the dynamics of sample paths, the ultimatum game, drift, noise, backward and forward induction, and strict Nash equilibria.

About the Author

Larry Samuelson is A. Douglas Melamed Professor of Economics at Yale University.


“Larry Samuelson is one of the leading figures in the burgeoning field of evolutionary game theory. This book is a careful and lucid exposition of some of the developments in which he has made pioneering contributions.”
Eric S. Maskin, Professor of Economics, Harvard University

“Evolutionary game theory has recently become an extremely active area of research. This book provides a unified presentation of Samuelson’s comprehensive and wide-ranging research in this area. Samuelson is one of the foremost researchers in evolutionary game theory, and the book includes his significant contributions to, and developments of, these important models.”
Eddie Dekel, Professor, Economics Department, Northwestern University

“Although John Nash already pointed out in his 1950 PhD thesis that strong rationality assumptions are not necessary to justify his fundamental equilibrium concept, it has only been in the last decade that the formal links between bounded rationality and equilibrium play have been formally explored. This book, authored by one of the main contributors to the area, provides an excellent overview of the lessons that have been learned. On the one hand, the book shows that simple dynamic models, such as the replicator equation, may arise naturally in economic settings, and it analyses the consequences of such models. On the other hand, it shows that the ‘dynamics’ matter, thus arguing for a careful modelling of actual human learning processes.”
Eric van Damme, Professor of Economics, CentER for Economic Research, Tilburg University, The Netherlands

“The analysis of evolutionary dynamics and other forms of nonequilibrium adjustment in games has been one of the most active research areas in game theory in the 1990s, and Larry Samuelson has been one of its leading practitioners. This book gathers and unifies his work in the area, ranging from strong results on standard aggregate models, such as the replicator dynamic, to new models that make learning by individual players explicit and take account of the extensive form structure of the game. The book will be of interest to every serious student of the field.”
Drew Fudenberg, Professor of Economics, Harvard University

“A serious discussion of important topics in evolutionary game theory. Samuelson contrasts deterministic against stochastic approaches, normal-form analysis against extensive-form analysis.”
J├Ârgen W. Weibull, A.O. Wallenberg Professor of Economics, Stockholm School of Economics