Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Playing games with MSc students

This is the fourth post in a series of posts  (see previous posts herehere and here).

I teach the first 4 weeks of the OR Methods module for our MSc in OR and Stats at Cardiff. One of the subjects I teach is game theory and this year I decided to introduce the subject through the use of the same games I've used in outreach events.

We had 31 participants. The first game we played was the 2/3rds of the average game. Here is the first set of guesses (before we discussed rationality and in essence solve the game together).
You can see that the guesses are pretty distributed across the range from 15 to 82. Three students did seem to notice that something was happening around 2/3rds of 100. The winning guess was 26, which is the highest winning first guess I've had so far.

After this we all went through the fact that 0 is the dominating strategy in this game (through iterated elimination of other all other strategies). Once this was rationalised we played again, here's the second set of guesses:
A few weird things happened, for example someone actually guessed 100 (there was no one guessing a 100 before). I suppose this shows some confusion or perhaps someone was just trying to tell me that they thought this was boring (despite the fact that I used a box of chocolats as a participation bribe... :) ). Otherwise the results are as one would expect and the guesses seem to be clustering a bit towards 0. The winning guess was 10 this time around (3 students had to share the chocolats) which is actually a tie for the highest winning second guess I've had so far.

Here's a quick summary of the 4 games I've played so far:
  • School kids (13 participants) - First Guess: 17 Second Guess: 2
  • Postgraduate students (80 participants) - First Guess: 18 Second Guess: 10
  • OR 54 Delegates (10 participants) - First Guess: 23 Second Guess: 3
  • MSc 2012 Cohort (31 participants) - First Guess: 26 Second Guess: 10

After this we put the guesses up for everyone to see and discussed what we expect to happen if we played again (and again). I thought this went well and I've had some of the students say they enjoyed it. I certainly enjoy teaching game theory as it's very "easy" to make come alive. After the 2/3rds of the average game we played a prisoner's dilemma tournament but I won't go in to that here. Here are a few photos showing the students discussing strategies and (hopefully) having fun.