MAT1374 Course Description

Course Contents:

    The main themes of this course are: making decisions in situations of uncertainty, strategic thinking, and the applications of these to a wide variety of areas, including games of chance such as poker.

Game theory: among the concepts we study are: sequential and simultaneous games, strategies and strategy profiles, Nash equilibria, mixed strategy games and randomization. We learn how to use game theory to better understand auctions, bargaining situations, negotiations, and we see how it applies to economics, politics, and of course to poker.

Probability theory: understanding odds and expected value are indispensable if you want to be successful in any game of chance. We also look at concepts such as risk of ruin, and the Kelly criterion.

History: we follow the historical development of probability theory, games of chance and poker through the eyes of the colorful people who made the subject what it is today.

Games: we look at a variety of casino games and poker variants including blackjack, Texas holdem, Omaha and more.

Psychology: using case studies and examples, we learn about various cognitive biases, common reasoning fallacies and other mistakes we are prone to when making decisions.

Gaming today: we take a look at various facets of online gaming, including legal aspects, fraud detection, use of software tools, and gambling addiction.

Course Organization:

    The most important component of the course are the lectures. During these lectures we play and analyze a variety of games, we discuss their background and the tools needed to understand them, and we look for opportunities to apply them in other contexts. Since the best way of learning the material is by being involved and by participating in the class activities. (If you play well, you might come out ahead!)

    There is no DGD for this course, but we will use the Blackboard system to discuss questions that may come up.

   There are no prerequisites for this course. In particular, no mathematical background is required except for elementary high school algebra.

Course Evaluation:

    There are four parts:

    In class, you are expected to participate in various games and experiments. You will receive an answer sheet at the beginning of each class; you record your answers during class and hand it in at the end of class. The answers are not graded for correctness, but are used to to collect data and as proof of attendance. Moreover, every other week you will participate in an online quiz, which is designed to test your understanding of the material covered in class. These two components form your class participation mark, and is worth 20% of your final grade.

    There will be a midterm exam consisting mainly of multiple choice questions. This is worth 15% of your final grade. The midterm exam will be held during class hours, and will last 75 minutes.

    There will be a final exam consisting mainly of multiple choice questions. This is worth 40% of your final grade.

    The last component is a group project: together with 4 others you will explore a topic of your interest related to the course material; this may be a further exploration of any of the course topics or an application of some of the ideas you learnt in class to a domain of your choice. Your group will write a report on its findings, and this is worth 25% of your final grade. The project is optional, and students who don't wish to participate may opt to have the weight of this component transferred to the other components of the course.

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