September 29: Win or lose: it’s how we play the game | Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics

September 29: Win or lose: it’s how we play the game

Posted on Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

Rene Kirkegaard loves a good guessing game.  The economics professor is interested in competitive situations where people don’t have all the information and have to make decisions by guessing how they think other people will act.

In a simple analogy, Kirkegaard describes the game of rock, paper, scissors “where you have to decide what your move will be based on what you think the other person’s move will be.” Real-world applications of his research are much more complex: consumer promotions, online auction sites, industrial bids for government contracts, applications for science and cultural grants, and even lobbying and political campaigns.

“I’m interested in how people with different preferences, abilities and options will act in these types of situations,” he says.

Using game theory, he is developing mathematical models that can be used to determine the outcome of people’s actions in various scenarios where they have to make decisions without complete information.

“People make decisions everyday without complete information and often base their decisions on how they think others will act,” he says. “Competing in a research and development race, applying for a job or bidding in an auction are all situations where people base their efforts and decisions on what they think others are doing.” 

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