N-player game

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In game theory, an n-player game is a game which is well defined for any number of players. This is usually used in contrast to standard 2-player games that are only specified for two players. In defining n-player games, game theorists usually provide a definition that allow for any (finite) number of players. [1]

Game theory is the study of mathematical models of strategic interaction between rational decision-makers. It has applications in all fields of social science, as well as in logic and computer science. Originally, it addressed zero-sum games, in which one person's gains result in losses for the other participants. Today, game theory applies to a wide range of behavioral relations, and is now an umbrella term for the science of logical decision making in humans, animals, and computers.

Changing games from 2-player games to n-player games entails some concerns.

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Minimax is a decision rule used in artificial intelligence, decision theory, game theory, statistics and philosophy for minimizing the possible loss for a worst case scenario. When dealing with gains, it is referred to as "maximin"—to maximize the minimum gain. Originally formulated for two-player zero-sum game theory, covering both the cases where players take alternate moves and those where they make simultaneous moves, it has also been extended to more complex games and to general decision-making in the presence of uncertainty.

In game theory and economic theory, a zero-sum game is a mathematical representation of a situation in which each participant's gain or loss of utility is exactly balanced by the losses or gains of the utility of the other participants. If the total gains of the participants are added up and the total losses are subtracted, they will sum to zero. Thus, cutting a cake, where taking a larger piece reduces the amount of cake available for others, is a zero-sum game if all participants value each unit of cake equally.

In game theory, the Nash equilibrium, named after the mathematician John Forbes Nash Jr., is a proposed solution of a non-cooperative game involving two or more players in which each player is assumed to know the equilibrium strategies of the other players, and no player has anything to gain by changing only their own strategy.

In mathematics, the nimbers, also called Grundy numbers, are introduced in combinatorial game theory, where they are defined as the values of heaps in the game Nim. The nimbers are the ordinal numbers endowed with nimber addition and nimber multiplication, which are distinct from ordinal addition and ordinal multiplication.

Combinatorial game theory branch of game theory about two-player sequential games with perfect information

Combinatorial game theory (CGT) is a branch of mathematics and theoretical computer science that typically studies sequential games with perfect information. Study has been largely confined to two-player games that have a position in which the players take turns changing in defined ways or moves to achieve a defined winning condition. CGT has not traditionally studied games of chance or those that use imperfect or incomplete information, favoring games that offer perfect information in which the state of the game and the set of available moves is always known by both players. However, as mathematical techniques advance, the types of game that can be mathematically analyzed expands, thus the boundaries of the field are ever changing. Scholars will generally define what they mean by a "game" at the beginning of a paper, and these definitions often vary as they are specific to the game being analyzed and are not meant to represent the entire scope of the field.

Combinatorial game theory has several ways of measuring game complexity. This article describes five of them: state-space complexity, game tree size, decision complexity, game-tree complexity, and computational complexity.

Abstract strategy game strategy game that minimizes luck and does not rely on a theme

An abstract strategy game is a strategy game in which the theme is not important to the experience of playing. Many of the world's classic board games, including chess, Go, checkers and draughts, xiangqi, shogi, Reversi, Nine Men's Morris, and most mancala variants, fit into this category. As J. Mark Thompson wrote in his article "Defining the Abstract", play is sometimes said to resemble a series of puzzles the players pose to each other:

There is an intimate relationship between such games and puzzles: every board position presents the player with the puzzle, What is the best move?, which in theory could be solved by logic alone. A good abstract game can therefore be thought of as a "family" of potentially interesting logic puzzles, and the play consists of each player posing such a puzzle to the other. Good players are the ones who find the most difficult puzzles to present to their opponents.

In game theory, a cooperative game is a game with competition between groups of players ("coalitions") due to the possibility of external enforcement of cooperative behavior. Those are opposed to non-cooperative games in which there is either no possibility to forge alliances or all agreements need to be self-enforcing.

In the mathematical discipline of model theory, the Ehrenfeucht–Fraïssé game is a technique for determining whether two structures are elementarily equivalent. The main application of Ehrenfeucht–Fraïssé games is in proving the inexpressibility of certain properties in first-order logic. Indeed, Ehrenfeucht–Fraïssé games provide a complete methodology for proving inexpressibility results for first-order logic. In this role, these games are of particular importance in finite model theory and its applications in computer science, since Ehrenfeucht–Fraïssé games are one of the few techniques from model theory that remain valid in the context of finite models. Other widely used techniques for proving inexpressibility results, such as the compactness theorem, do not work in finite models.

An extensive-form game is a specification of a game in game theory, allowing for the explicit representation of a number of key aspects, like the sequencing of players' possible moves, their choices at every decision point, the information each player has about the other player's moves when they make a decision, and their payoffs for all possible game outcomes. Extensive-form games also allow for the representation of incomplete information in the form of chance events modeled as "moves by nature".

In game theory, the core is the set of feasible allocations that cannot be improved upon by a subset of the economy's agents. A coalition is said to improve upon or block a feasible allocation if the members of that coalition are better off under another feasible allocation that is identical to the first except that every member of the coalition has a different consumption bundle that is part of an aggregate consumption bundle that can be constructed from publicly available technology and the initial endowments of each consumer in the coalition.

In game theory, fictitious play is a learning rule first introduced by George W. Brown. In it, each player presumes that the opponents are playing stationary strategies. At each round, each player thus best responds to the empirical frequency of play of their opponent. Such a method is of course adequate if the opponent indeed uses a stationary strategy, while it is flawed if the opponent's strategy is non-stationary. The opponent's strategy may for example be conditioned on the fictitious player's last move.

Determinacy is a subfield of set theory, a branch of mathematics, that examines the conditions under which one or the other player of a game has a winning strategy, and the consequences of the existence of such strategies. Alternatively and similarly, "determinacy" is the property of a game whereby such a strategy exists.

In game theory, a repeated game is an extensive form game that consists of a number of repetitions of some base game. The stage game is usually one of the well-studied 2-person games. Repeated games capture the idea that a player will have to take into account the impact of his or her current action on the future actions of other players; this impact is sometimes called his or her reputation. Single stage game or single shot game are names for non-repeated games.

The mathematics of gambling are a collection of probability applications encountered in games of chance and can be included in game theory. From a mathematical point of view, the games of chance are experiments generating various types of aleatory events, the probability of which can be calculated by using the properties of probability on a finite space of events.

A topological game is an infinite game of perfect information played between two players on a topological space. Players choose objects with topological properties such as points, open sets, closed sets and open coverings. Time is generally discrete, but the plays may have transfinite lengths, and extensions to continuum time have been put forth. The conditions for a player to win can involve notions like topological closure and convergence.

In game theory, Zermelo’s theorem, named after Ernst Zermelo, says that in any finite two-person game of perfect information in which the players move alternately and in which chance does not affect the decision making process, if the game cannot end in a draw, then one of the two players must have a winning strategy. An alternate statement is that for a game meeting all of these conditions except the condition that a draw is not possible, then either the first-player can force a win, or the second-player can force a win, or both players can force a draw.

In algorithmic game theory, a succinct game or a succinctly representable game is a game which may be represented in a size much smaller than its normal form representation. Without placing constraints on player utilities, describing a game of players, each facing strategies, requires listing utility values. Even trivial algorithms are capable of finding a Nash equilibrium in a time polynomial in the length of such a large input. A succinct game is of polynomial type if in a game represented by a string of length n the number of players, as well as the number of strategies of each player, is bounded by a polynomial in n.


  1. Binmore, Ken (2007). Playing for Real : A Text on Game Theory:. Oxford University Press. p. 522. ISBN   9780198041146.