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I am from programming background but with very limited knowledge of maths.

I am very much eager to learn and apply game theory to understand dynamics of International Politics and economics. But I am facing difficulties to understand the maths involved in it.


  1. What are prerequisites for understanding the math in the game theory?
  2. What are the authentic sources to understand game theory mathematically and and its application in the international politics and economics?
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There is a difference between the requisites to master something and to understand it. The latter is a sensible goal, while the first not so much. – Mariano Suárez-Alvarez May 30 '13 at 6:01

As @JordanMahar mentions, Fudenberg and Tirole is the standard graduate-level text. But I would start with Game Theory for Applied Economists by Gibbons. It is very readable.

Prerequisites for Gibbons are minimal. A little algebra and probability will do just fine.

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  1. Secondary-school math. And since game theory is essentially math, along the way you'll learn more math.
  2. Ken Binmore's Playing for Real: A Text on Game Theory is suitable for undergraduates and doesn't get heavily mathematical at all.
  • What is game theory about?
  • How do I apply game theory?
  • Why is game theory right?

There's even a marker in the margin in places where you're allowed to skip some of the math and move on to the next bit.

It isn't easy to write in a light-hearted style when presenting mathematical material, but I did my best.

I think he did an excellent job.

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In economics, the classic source for game theory is:

Fudenberg, D. and Tirole, J. (1991). Game Theory

At least with Game Theory applied to economics, you can begin with a minimal knowledge of mathematics (applied calculus and some set theory will usually suffice).

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