Review Comment

[IEOR 4407] Game Theoretic Models for Operations Research

August 16, 2016

Sethuraman, Jay
GAME THEORIC MODELS OF OPERATIONS and [IEOR 4407] Game Theoretic Models for Operations Research

Jay’s Game Theory course was intense but very rewarding. Beware of getting comfortable in this class. The first 3 weeks are fairly straightforward, as it takes some time to shift from the traditional OR mindset to a game theory mindset. However, homework quickly got complex and tough.

The class is split into two parts. The first ¾ of the class is on game theory (which is split into 4 sections) and the last segment is on auction theory. While game theory is somewhat nuanced and difficult, Jay does a good job of elucidating the important concepts in class, and providing examples. The homework in this part of the class becomes tough because of the jump from the classroom examples to the homework. For example, in the classroom, we would find a Nash Equilibrium when each player has a finite number of options, whereas on homework, we were asked to do this when the players had unaccountably many options. He would give hints on how to do this, but you would really have to make sure you understood the concepts in the classroom example, and then use some different math to account for the jump from discrete to continuous. As usual, Jay is very dedicated in his office hours, as is his TA Irene, and that means there was plenty of help. Jay also records his lectures which is very helpful when tackling homework. It is important to look at the homework as soon as it is released, as you will need time to ponder the problems, get stuck, etc. The problem sets were definitely hard and long but if you work your way through them you really understand the material, and you are ready to tackle his notoriously difficult exams, which are similar in style to his other courses.

The auction theory portion of the class was rough. Jay was sometimes unprepared, and the material is significantly more confusing than game theory. The combination led to a large amount of confusion. When you combine this with the fact that some differential equations got thrown in, people were quite disheartened. Jay is planning on re-doing this portion of the course based on the experience with our class, but whenever you get to auction theory, make sure to strap yourself in, because there are lots of things to wrap your head around, and the provided textbook isn’t the most useful, though it is nice to use on occasion.

Ignoring the auction theory part of the course, the class was difficult, yet interesting, challenging, and illuminating. It is also extremely useful because it forces you to approach problems in a way that differs greatly from the traditional OR mindset, and that in and of itself is extremely useful and much more applicable from a job point of view. The class average is generally quite terrible as seniors don’t like to show up to a Monday morning class, so that helps in terms of grading.

Workload:

Weekly Problem Sets (start easy, but then they get long, especially if you try and do them without just copying from office hours)

1 Midterm (moderately difficult)
1 Final Paper (easy)
1 Final Exam (difficult)

Start the homework early each week!

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