Evolutionary Intelligence

, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 113–123 | Cite as

On the complexity of the El Farol Bar game: a sensitivity analysis

  • Shu-Heng ChenEmail author
  • Umberto Gostoli
Special Issue


In this paper, we carry out a sensitivity analysis for an agent-based model of the use of public resources as manifested by the El Farol Bar problem. An early study using the same model has shown that a good-society equilibrium, characterized by both economic efficiency and economic equality, can be achieved probabilistically by a von Neumann network, and can be achieved surely with the presence of some agents having social preferences, such as the inequity-averse preference or the ‘keeping-up-with-the-Joneses’ preference. In this study, we examine this fundamental result by exploring the inherent complexity of the model; specifically, we address the effect of the three key parameters related to size, namely, the network size, the neighborhood size, and the memory size. We find that social preferences still play an important role over all the sizes considered. Nonetheless, it is also found that when network size becomes large, the parameter, the bar capacity (the attendance threshold), may also play a determining role.


El Farol Bar problem Good-society equilibrium Social preferences Imitation Mutation Inequity aversion Keeping-up-with-the-Joneses 



The research support in the form of the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) Grant, MOST 103-2410-H-004-009-MY3, is gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsNational Chengchi UniversityTaipeiTaiwan
  2. 2.School of Psychological SciencesUniversity of ManchesterManchesterUK

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