Games2016, 7(3), 19; doi:10.3390/g7030019 - published 28 July 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: In strategic situations, humans infer the state of mind of others, e.g., emotions or intentions, adapting their behavior appropriately. Nonetheless, evolutionary studies of cooperation typically focus only on reaction norms, e.g., tit for tat, whereby individuals make their next decisions by only considering the observed outcome rather than focusing on their opponent’s state of mind. In this paper, we analyze repeated two-player games in which players explicitly infer their opponent’s unobservable state of mind. Using Markov decision processes, we investigate optimal decision rules and their performance in cooperation. The state-of-mind inference requires Bayesian belief calculations, which is computationally intensive. We therefore study two models in which players simplify these belief calculations. In Model 1, players adopt a heuristic to approximately infer their opponent’s state of mind, whereas in Model 2, players use information regarding their opponent’s previous state of mind, obtained from external evidence, e.g., emotional signals. We show that players in both models reach almost optimal behavior through commitment-like decision rules by which players are committed to selecting the same action regardless of their opponent’s behavior. These commitment-like decision rules can enhance or reduce cooperation depending on the opponent’s strategy.
Games2016, 7(3), 18; doi:10.3390/g7030018 - published 15 July 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Effective sharing mechanisms of joint costs among beneficiaries of a project are a fundamental requirement for the sustainability of the project. Projects that are heterogeneous both in terms of the landscape of the area under development or the participants (users) lead to a more complicated set of allocation mechanisms than homogeneous projects. The analysis presented in this paper uses cooperative game theory to develop schemes for sharing costs and revenues from a project involving various beneficiaries in an equitable and fair way. The proposed approach is applied to the West Delta irrigation project. It sketches a differential two-part tariff that reproduces the allocation of total project costs using the Shapley Value, a well-known cooperative game allocation solution. The proposed differential tariff, applied to each land section in the project reflecting their landscape-related costs, contrasts the unified tariff that was proposed using the traditional methods in the project planning documents.
Games2016, 7(3), 17; doi:10.3390/g7030017 - published 12 July 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: In two-sided markets a platform allows consumers and sellers to interact by creating sub-markets within the platform marketplace. For example, Amazon has sub-markets for all of the different product categories available on its site, and smartphones have sub-markets for different types of applications (gaming apps, weather apps, map apps, ridesharing apps, etc.). The network benefits between consumers and sellers depend on the mode of competition within the sub-markets: more competition between sellers lowers product prices, increases the surplus consumers receive from a sub-market, and makes platform membership more desirable for consumers. However, more competition also lowers profits for a seller which makes platform membership less desirable for a seller and reduces seller entry and the number of sub-markets available on the platform marketplace. This dynamic between seller competition within a sub-market and agents’ network benefits leads to platform pricing strategies, participation decisions by consumers and sellers, and welfare results that depend on the mode of competition. Thus, the sub-market structure is important when investigating platform marketplaces.
Games2016, 7(3), 16; doi:10.3390/g7030016 - published 7 July 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: We analyze how network effects affect competition in the nascent cryptocurrency market. We do so by examining early dynamics of exchange rates among different cryptocurrencies. While Bitcoin essentially dominates this market, our data suggest no evidence of a winner-take-all effect early in the market. Indeed, for a relatively long period, a few other cryptocurrencies competing with Bitcoin (the early industry leader) appreciated much more quickly than Bitcoin. The data in this period are consistent with the use of cryptocurrencies as financial assets (popularized by Bitcoin), and not consistent with winner-take-all dynamics. Toward the end of our sample, however, things change dramatically. Bitcoin appreciates against the USD, while other currencies depreciate against the USD. The data in this period are consistent with strong network effects and winner-take-all dynamics. This trend continues at the time of writing.
Games2016, 7(3), 15; doi:10.3390/g7030015 - published 27 June 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Game theoretic approaches have recently been used to model the deterrence effect of patrol officers’ assignments on opportunistic crimes in urban areas. One major challenge in this domain is modeling the behavior of opportunistic criminals. Compared to strategic attackers (such as terrorists) who execute a well-laid out plan, opportunistic criminals are less strategic in planning attacks and more flexible in executing well-laid plans based on their knowledge of patrol officers’ assignments. In this paper, we aim to design an optimal police patrolling strategy against opportunistic criminals in urban areas. Our approach is comprised by two major parts: learning a model of the opportunistic criminal (and how he or she responds to patrols) and then planning optimal patrols against this learned model. The planning part, by using information about how criminals responds to patrols, takes into account the strategic game interaction between the police and criminals. In more detail, first, we propose two categories of models for modeling opportunistic crimes. The first category of models learns the relationship between defender strategy and crime distribution as a Markov chain. The second category of models represents the interaction of criminals and patrol officers as a Dynamic Bayesian Network (DBN) with the number of criminals as the unobserved hidden states. To this end, we: (i) apply standard algorithms, such as Expectation Maximization (EM), to learn the parameters of the DBN; (ii) modify the DBN representation that allows for a compact representation of the model, resulting in better learning accuracy and the increased speed of learning of the EM algorithm when used for the modified DBN. These modifications exploit the structure of the problem and use independence assumptions to factorize the large joint probability distributions. Next, we propose an iterative learning and planning mechanism that periodically updates the adversary model. We demonstrate the efficiency of our learning algorithms by applying them to a real dataset of criminal activity obtained from the police department of the University of Southern California (USC) situated in Los Angeles, CA, USA. We project a significant reduction in crime rate using our planning strategy as compared to the actual strategy deployed by the police department. We also demonstrate the improvement in crime prevention in simulation when we use our iterative planning and learning mechanism when compared to just learning once and planning. Finally, we introduce a web-based software for recommending patrol strategies, which is currently deployed at USC. In the near future, our learning and planning algorithm is planned to be integrated with this software. This work was done in collaboration with the police department of USC.