Terms Beginning With 'g'

Game Theory

  • January 03, 2020
  • Team Kalkine

 What is Game Theory?

Game theory is a mathematical statistical analysis of how individuals react to different circumstances presented to them. Each situation comes with a set of payoffs and the individuals must decide which move to play based on these expected playoffs.

Since these payoffs are known to the players depending on different moves by all the participants, the entire course of action depends on the strategy chosen by the players. This strategy might be incentivising for one and harmful for the other or can be beneficial to both. Thus, the players must decide whether to collaborate, or to work for their own profits.

The concept of game theory has various applications in real life. A game theory set up can help alter an individual’s strategy based on his assumptions about the opponent’s move. Thus, it helps determine a sustainable outcome in a situation where two individuals find themselves at conflict. However, not all game theory set ups can be solved productively as they involve trade-offs between what the players desire. 

What are the different terms used in game theory analysis?

  • PLAYERS: There are two players in most game theory experiments, and each player is affected by the strategy played by both the players.
  • PAYOFFS: Payoffs refer to the outcomes for each player of the game based on different strategies. A payoff matrix depicts the different situations and the associated outcomes by both the players in a diagram form.
  • STRATEGY: It refers to the course of action adopted by the players depending on the payoff matrix known by them. It can be for personal profit or in collaboration with each other.
  • INFORMATION SET: The players are aware about the possible strategies and the payoffs attached to them. This information forms the information set which is used by the players to choose their moves.

What is Nash Equilibrium?

Nash equilibrium refers to that outcome in the game in which both players have achieved the best possible solution through a collaboration. This is the state from which neither of the players would want to deviate.

This outcome may not always be optimal for both. In certain instances, it might be possible to make one player better off by making the other worse off.

What is Pareto Optimality?

Pareto Optimality refers to that stage in which both players have reached their best potential. This state considers the individual’s best outcome rather than the collaborative best outcome. Thus, it is that state from which it is not possible to make one player better off without making the other worse off. The outcome for both the players is at its best.

A Nash equilibrium may not always be pareto optimal. This means that the outcome which is the collaborative best between both players may not be pareto optimal. Thus, it is possible to deflect from that outcome and make both players reach their personal best.

What are the different types of strategies used by the players?

The strategies in the game can be of two types:

  • Pure Strategy: This is the strategy which is fully defined for a player and can be thought of as ‘occurring with full probability’.
  • Mixed Strategy: This involves assigning probabilities to pure strategies. This allows players to randomly choose a pure strategy. Thus, pure strategy can be termed as a mixed strategy occurring with probability equal to 1.

How is the concept of game theory applied?

  1. Prisoner’s Dilemma: The most common application of Game Theory can be seen in the example of Prisoner’s Dilemma. This game involves two prisoners who are not aware about each other’s decisions in the game. Both have been suspected of committing a crime and are held for questioning. The prisoners face different years of jail sentence based on the strategy they choose.

The payoff matrix is as follows:


Here the Nash Equilibrium is achieved when both A and B confess. Thus, (5,5) is the collaborative best that both the players can perform. However, this is not the pareto optimal solution.

The pareto optimal outcome is (1,1) as both players want to serve as less jail time as possible. Thus, it is not possible for one to be better off without making the other worse off if neither one of them confesses.


  1. Battle of the Sexes: Battle of the sexes is a game where a girl and a boy want to go on an outing together, however the girl prefers going to see an opera while the boy prefers going to a football match. However, going to these places separately does not earn them any payoffs, while going together gives higher payoff to only one of them and not both.


The payoff matrix is as follows:

There are two possible Nash equilibria in this game. One is achieved when both go to Opera and the other when they both go to watch the Football match.

Is the concept of game theory accurate?

The limitation of game theory is that it is based on certain assumptions. It assumes that the players would always act in favour of their personal interests. However, it is possible to witness real life scenarios where people are more collaborative as well as altruistic.

It is also possible that in a real life set up, stability is achieved at an outcome which is not a Nash Equilibrium. Depending on the varied social set ups as well as personal preferences, game theory may not always justify real life situation.

What is an Absolute Advantage? Absolute advantage is one of the key macroeconomic terms, which is based on the principles of Capitalism and is often utilised in international trade-related decisions. Absolute advantage refers to the competence of a company, region or country to produce goods or services in an efficient manner compared to any other economic entity. The efficiency in production can be achieved by: Production of the same quantity of good or services as produced by other entity by utilising fewer amount of resources Production of a higher quantity of good or services as produced by other entity by using the same amount of resources What is the Significance of Absolute Advantage? Different countries or businesses possess a different set of ability owing to their location, soil composition, weather, infrastructure, or human resource skills. When applied in the right direction, various factors may pan out to offer more cost-effectiveness and hence build absolute advantage of the entity in comparison to others.  The absolute advantage remains one of the critical determinants for the choice of the goods or services to be produced. Absolute advantage in a particular area often translates into profitability in the area. The profit margin increases by the achievement of cost efficiency, allowing the entity to ensure higher profitability over the competitors.  For example, let us assume that the US can produce ten high-quality aircrafts utilising a specific amount of resources. China, on the other hand, can build 6 similar quality aircrafts using the same amount of resources. Thus, in the production of an aircraft, the US holds Absolute Advantage Let’s say the US has the ability to manufacture a certain amount of steel using 10 tonnes of iron ore. China, on the other hand, can produce the same quantity of steel using 8 tonnes of iron ore.Here, China here holds Absolute Advantage in the production of steel.  How Countries Build Absolute Advantage? While natural conditions, which include climatic factors, geometry, topography, cannot be altered for achieving absolute advantage, the countries use the underlying factors strategically in their favour. Furthermore, factors of production are focused at by many companies or nations for building absolute advantages.  Some of the strategies for building absolute advantage includes: Development of Technological Competencies- The implementation of innovative or latest technological innovations allows the entities to lower their production cost, facilitating absolute advantage.  Enhancing Skills of Human Resources- The improvement in the cost-efficiency, along with the quality of the products, is targeted through imparting varying skill development programs. Many countries subsidize or aid the apprentice or labour training for enhancing the absolute advantage in trade.  Improving Infrastructure- The infrastructure enhancement in the form of road, telecommunications, ports, etc. can be useful in enhancing the cost-effectiveness across different industries.  What Do We Understand by Comparative Advantage Vs Absolute Advantage? Evaluating the comparative advantage introduces the concept of opportunity cost, which is the deciding factor to determine the production of particular goods or services. Opportunity cost refers to the potential benefits associated with the next best possible alternative which is missed out when one option is chosen over another.  The Absolute advantage simply considers the capability of a business or region to deliver goods or services in the most efficient manner. The Comparative Advantage, however, also takes into account the benefits that are forgone if an entity decides for production of a particular product or services.  Comparative advantage, based on the notion of mutual benefits, is often used in international trade deals. The Comparative advantage has been the major factor driving the outsourcing of services in search of cheap labour.  Understanding through an Example For instance, country A can produce ten televisions with the same amount of resources with which it can make 7 laptops. The opportunity cost per television is 7/10 or 0.7 laptops. Meanwhile, the opportunity cost per laptop is 10/7 or 1.42 television.  It highlights that country A is forsaking the production of 0.7 laptops if it is deciding to manufacture one television. On the other hand, it is missing out the opportunity to manufacture 1.42 televisions for every single laptop manufactured.  Now, say Country B’s opportunity cost for producing a television is 0.5 laptop, and that of producing laptop is 2 televisions. Then, country B will have a comparative advantage in making televisions, and country A will have comparative advantage in producing laptops. It has to be noted that despite country A having absolute advantages in both the products, it would be mutually beneficial for both the countries if country B produces television while country A produces laptops. Do You Know About Absolute Advantage Theory by Adam Smith? The concept of Absolute Advantage was indicated by Adam Smith in his book called ‘Wealth of Nations’ which focusses on International trade theory. Adam Smith, in his book attacked on the previous mercantilism theory, which mainly stressed for economies to maintain trade surplus in order to command power.  The Absolute Advantage theory considered that the countries possess different ability with respect to the production of varying goods or services. It argued that it is not necessary that a state may hold an absolute advantage in the production of all goods, and here the relevance of trade comes into play.  It advocates that countries should produce those goods over which they hold a competitive advantage. It would allow the countries to make the same amount of goods using few resources or in less time. The theory propagates the relevance of trade for economic sustainability.  What Are the Limitations of the Absolute Advantage Theory? The assumptions used in the Absolute Advantage Theory by Adam Smith may limit the application in real bilateral trade. The limitations of the theory by Adam Smith include: Smith assumed that the productive capabilities of a country could not be transferred between the two countries. However, in practical terms, the competitive scenario aids the nations to acquire new capabilities and acquire new resources, especially in the technological and human resource skill aspects.  The two-country trade which was used as a basis for the theory does not consider the trade barriers levied. The present scenario, however, is strikingly dominated by trade wars between economies. Nations impose huge tariffs, import duties and other type of barriers to promote local manufacturers.  Absolute Advantage theory assumes that the trade between the two nations will take place only if each of the two economies holds an absolute advantage in one of the commodities traded. However, in general, countries despite not holding absolute advantage are engrossed in international trade, boosting their economic setup.

Darvas Box system Every great trader/investor in the history of the markets had a specific method to approach the markets, which eventually led them to create a good fortune, Darvas Box system is one such method. It is a trend following strategy developed by Nicholas Darvas in the 1950s to identify stocks for good upside potential. This is one of the few methods to trade the markets which uses the combination of both the technical analysis and fundamental analysis for a much more refined decision.  The fundamentals were used to identify the stocks, and technical analysis was used to time the entry and exits. Who was Nicholas Darvas? Nicholas Darvas was arguably one of the greatest stock traders/investors during 1950s – 1960s, but surprisingly he was a ball dancer by profession and not a professional stock trader. Even while trading and building his fortune, he was on a world tour for his performances in many countries and took up trading as a part-time job. In November 1952 he was invited to a Toronto Nightclub for which he received an unusual proposition of getting paid in shares by the club owners. At that time, all he knew was there is something called stocks which moves up and down in value, that’s it. He accepted the offer and received 6k shares of a Canadian mining company Brilund at 60 cents per share, with the condition that if the stock falls below this price within six months, then the owners would make up the difference. This was the introduction of a professional ball dancer to the stock market. Nicholas Darvas couldn’t perform at the club, so he bought those shares as a gesture. Within two months, Brilund touched $1.9, and his initial investment of $3000 turned to $11400, netting in almost three times of his investment. This triggered a curiosity into the stock markets, and he started to explore trading. Origin of the Darvas Box theory Initially, he was trading on his broker’s recommendation, tips from wealthy businessmen, he even approached some advisory services or any source that he could get his hands on for the tips, but all led him to losses. After losing a lot of money, he decided to develop his own theory, and after a lot of trial and error, his observations and continuous refinements he eventually invented his theory “The Box Theory”. So what exactly is the Box Theory? Fundamentals Analysis As stated earlier, the box theory uses a judicious bend of both the technical and fundamentals. Darvas believed that in order to spot a good stock or even a multibagger, there should be something brewing up in the respective sector as a whole or some major fundamental change in that specific company. Generally, the fundamentals that Darvas used to study were on a broader sector level, and not the company-specific fundamentals. Even for the specific company Darvas used to look from a general perspective like, is the company launching a new product which could be a blockbuster hit. He completely refrained from looking at numbers and financial statements as his initial experiment with ratios and financial statements didn’t yield any good result. To know more on the three financial statements read: Income Statement (P&L) Balance Sheet Cash Flow Statement Technical Analysis Darvas was a big believer in price action and volume of the stock. He believed if some major fundamental changes were to take place in a company, this soon shows up in the stock price and its volume of trading as more people get interested in buying or selling the stock. With his observations here realized by just observing the price action, he can participate in the rally which gets triggered by some major fundamental development without actually knowing about the change. Using the box theory, Darvas used to scan stocks based on rising volume as he needed mass participation in the rally. Also, he only picked up those stocks that were already rising. His theory is all about “buy high, sell higher” instead of the conventional belief of “buy low, sell high”. After the stock satisfies both the parameters of increasing price and volume with major underlying fundamental change, Darvas looks to enter the stock. Good read on momentum trading. How and where to enter? Major part of the box theory is based on entry and exit levels. To enter a stock, Darvas looked for a consolidation phase preceded by a rally. A consolidation phase is the price action wherein the price moves up and down in a tight range, that is, a non-directional move. He would then mark the high and low of the consolidation phase with the horizontal line, essentially making it a box-like structure, hence the name “Box Theory”. The high point is called the ceiling, and low is called the floor. Whenever the stocks break above the ceiling, Darvas would look to buy one tick above the ceiling with one tick below floor as a stop-loss point. Pyramiding Darvas discovered early on, in order to become successful in the market your winning bets should yield much more profit than the loss in the losing bets. This led him to do pyramiding in his winning trade, which is clearly defined in the box theory. Pyramiding means to increase the existing position if the stock is going in the favour, which leads to a much higher profit in the winning trades. According to the box theory, the repetition of the entry criterion is the new signal for adding onto the existing position. In other words, after a position, if the stocks stage the same setup, that is, a consolidation after a rally, then the break above the ceiling of this new box would signal to increase position with the revised stop loss of 1 tick below the new floor. In any case, whenever the stock falls below the current floor, the entire position would we sold off at once. This is the only exit condition in the box theory, and there is no method of booking profit upfront as Darvas believed in holding on to a rising stock. The only way to book profit is to let the stock to take out the revised stop loss.

David Ricardo, a renowned economist, is majorly recognised for his theory on wages and profits, theory of international trade, theory of rents and labor theory of value. His economic thinking dominated throughout majority of the 19th century.

An early adopter (aka lighthouse customer) is typically an early customer of any particular company or technology. The term was first coined in the theory of Diffusion of Innovations from Everett M. Rogers. Early adopters help the companies to better understand the willingness of the customer to consume or use the products.

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