Willson, S.J. Theory and Decision (1998) 45: 201. doi:10.1023/A:1004946714084

Abstract

This paper proposes a revised Theory of Moves (TOM) to analyze matrix games between two players when payoffs are given as ordinals. The games are analyzed when a given player i must make the first move, when there is a finite limit n on the total number of moves, and when the game starts at a given initial state S. Games end when either both players pass in succession or else a total of n moves have been made. Studies are made of the influence of i, n, and S on the outcomes. It is proved that these outcomes ultimately become periodic in n and therefore exhibit long-term predictable behavior. Efficient algorithms are given to calculate these ultimate outcomes by computer. Frequently the ultimate outcomes are independent of i, S, and n when n is sufficiently large; in this situation this common ultimate outcome is proved to be Pareto-optimal. The use of ultimate outcomes gives rise to a concept of stable points, which are analogous to Nash equilibria but consider long-term effects. If the initial state is a stable point, then no player has an incentive to move from that state, under the assumption that any initial move could be followed by a long series of moves and countermoves. The concept may be broadened to that of a stable set. It is proved that every game has a minimal stable set, and any two distinct minimal stable sets are disjoint. Comparisons are made with the results of standard TOM.

Game theoryNoncooperative gamesTheory of Moves (TOM)Prisoner's DilemmaStable set