HC431H - Cooperative Game Theory: An investigation of fairness principles

Professor: Anne van den Nouweland

4.00 credits

  • CRN 16619: Tuesday & Thursday, 2:00-3:50pm @ CHA 202

The words “equity” and “fairness” are often used colloquially. But what exactly do we mean when we use those words? Across different cultures and societies, we find different notions of “fairness” and “equity.” A systematic investigation of the principles underlying these various notions helps us become aware of any preconceived ideas we might have ourselves and it also helps us understand the motivations of people who approach equity in ways that are unfamiliar to us. 

Equity is a complex idea that resists simple formulations. It is strongly shaped by cultural values, by precedent, and by context. To understand what equity means in a given situation we must look at the contextual details. The aim of the course is to call attention to the common themes that cut across different areas of application, and to show that these pieces fit together into a larger picture. 

For many problems of applied equity, what seems simple at the outset turns out to be riddled with puzzles and contradiction. We turn to logical analysis to sort them out. The study of equity has close ties with the methods of coalitional game theory. Coalitional game theory provides methodologies to make precise statements about what might be considered “equitable” or “fair” in various circumstances, and to investigate whether rules that satisfy such notions of “equity” or “fairness” exist. 

The purpose of the course is to familiarize the students with the models and techniques that constitute the area of coalitional game theory. The course will leave the students with knowledge of the basic models and the ability to work through the techniques that are demonstrated in class. In addition, the course will endow the students with the ability to use the models and techniques to gain insight into a large variety of everyday questions.