Game Theory


The study of mathematical models of conflict and cooperation between intelligent, rational decisionmakers, game theory is also known more descriptively as interactive decision theory. For more than six decades, RAND researchers have used game theory to explore economics, political science, psychology, and conflict.

  • chess board

    Commercial Book

    A Primer on the Theory of Games of Strategy

    Dec 1, 1954

    This 1954 classic on basic concepts of game theory and its applications popularized the subject for amateurs, professionals, and students throughout the world.

Explore Game Theory

  • RAND researcher Anna Elizabeth 'Nancy' Nimitz, September 1, 1958


    A Brief History of RAND

    RAND was incorporated as a nonprofit corporation in 1948. From its early years to the present, RAND research is characterized by its objectivity and nonpartisanship, its quality and scientific rigor, and its dedication to improving policymaking on the most pressing issues of the day.

    Aug 3, 2018

  • Wargaming at the Naval Postgraduate School


    Adding Shots on Target: Wargaming Beyond the Game

    Figuring out what the future may look like—and what concepts and technology we should invest in now to prepare—is hard. How can the wargaming community build a cycle of research to help understand what these paths might be?

    Oct 9, 2017

  • Dice representing flags of United States, China, and Russia on a world map


    Gaming Solutions to Global Problems

    In this Call with the Experts, David Shlapak, a senior international research analyst at RAND, talks about how serious games can help find solutions to global problems.

    Jun 8, 2017

  • Report

    Serious Analytical Gaming: The 360° Game for Multidimensional Analysis of Complex Problems

    This report is intended to help decisionmakers who would like to design and run a 360° Game, which can be used in multidimensional analysis of complex problems and allows participants to investigate a problem from a variety of perspectives.

    May 30, 2017

  • Researchers demonstrating a gaming exercise for board members in Santa Monica, 1966


    The Serious Role of Gaming at RAND

    RAND uses gaming techniques to develop insights into a host of 21st century challenges. In this Events @ RAND podcast, David Shlapak, codirector of the RAND Center for Gaming, discusses the strengths, weaknesses, and limitations of using gaming in research.

    Mar 23, 2017

  • Thomas Schelling (left) receives the Nobel Prize in economics from Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf in Stockholm, December 10, 2005


    Thomas Schelling, Nobel Laureate and Longtime RAND Consultant, Dies at 95

    Thomas Schelling, a Nobel Prize-winning economist and longtime RAND consultant whose ideas about conflict and cooperation helped guide American policymakers during the Cold War and beyond, has died.

    Dec 14, 2016

  • Globe on a chessboard


    How Can Gaming Help Test Your Theory?

    The act of designing a game will force you to articulate your theory or to be more specific about it. It will also require you to operationalize your variables and theoretical constructs of interest into a specific context, and prompt you to anticipate the ways in which it may play out in that scenario.

    May 18, 2016

  • Lloyd Shapley in a RAND photograph taken in the 1970s


    Lloyd S. Shapley, Nobel Laureate in Economics, Dies at 92

    Lloyd S. Shapley, a longtime RAND Corporation researcher and UCLA professor who was a leading expert in the study of strategic decisionmaking called “game theory,” sharing the Nobel Prize in economics for his work on the subject, died Saturday.

    Mar 14, 2016

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    Journal Article

    The Effect of Near-Term Policy Choices on Long-Term Greenhouse Gas Transformation Pathways

    This paper introduces a new agent-based, game theoretic model designed to compare how near-term choices regarding alternative policy architectures influence long-term emission reduction trajectories.

    Nov 23, 2015

  • Nobel Prize winner John Forbes Nash at the 74th Annual Academy Awards in Los Angeles, March 24, 2002


    Statement About John Forbes Nash, Jr.

    RAND notes with regret the death of John Nash, a consultant at RAND from 1950 to 1954 who was awarded the 1994 Nobel Prize for Economics for his landmark work, first begun in the 1950s, on the mathematics of game theory.

    May 24, 2015

  • Journal Article

    Assessing the Validity of Using Serious Game Technology to Analyze Physician Decision Making

    Physician non-compliance with clinical practice guidelines remains a critical barrier to high quality care.

    Aug 1, 2014

  • Electric power plant


    Modeling Industry Transformation and the Political Sustainability of Emission Control Policies

    Limiting climate change will require transformation of energy and other systems. A new model that uses Robust Decision Making tools enables decisionmakers to compare the long-term sustainability of alternative carbon emission reduction policies.

    Sep 6, 2013

  • Lloyd Shapley receives his 2012 Nobel Prize for Economics from Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf during the Nobel Prize award ceremony at the Stockholm Concert Hall in Stockholm, December 10, 2012


    RAND's Lloyd Shapley Wins Nobel Prize in Economics

    Lloyd S. Shapley, a longtime RAND researcher who is now an emeritus professor at UCLA, has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics jointly with Alvin E. Roth for his work on game theory.

    Oct 15, 2012

  • Journal Article

    A Table-Top Game to Teach Technological and Tactical Planning in a Graduate Terrorism and Counterterrorism Course

    A table-top game is described where students play the role of a terrorist group seeking to attack an urban subway and then act as security planners charged with protecting it.

    Dec 31, 2010

  • Brochure

    PRGS 2010 Defense Seminar Brochure

    Describes the course offerings and faculty for an intensive weeklong program offered by the Pardee RAND Graduate School in fall 2010.

    Jun 9, 2010

  • Policeman standing guard

    Journal Article

    The Dynamics of Deterrence

    Game theory and other simulations show that, if potential criminal offenders are sufficiently deterrable, increasing the conditional probability of punishment (given violation) can reduce the amount of punishment actually inflicted, by "tipping" a situation from its high-violation equilibrium to its low-violation equilibrium.

    Dec 31, 2008

  • Commercial Book

    Games of Strategy: Theory and Applications

    Classic work from 1961 discusses basic concepts of game theory and its applications for military, economic, and political problems, as well as its usefulness in decisionmaking in business, operations research, and behavioral science.

    Oct 8, 2007

  • Report

    Joint Paths to the Future Force: A Report on Unified Quest 2004

    Presents RAND's analysis of Unified Quest 2004, a wargame cosponsored by Joint Forces Command and the United States Army.

    Feb 8, 2006

  • Thomas Schelling (left) receives the Nobel Prize in economics from Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf in Stockholm, December 10, 2005


    Nobel Committee Honors Former RAND Economist Thomas Schelling

    Dr. Thomas Schelling, recipient of the 2005 Nobel Prize in economics, had a nearly 50-year affiliation with RAND, including one year as a staff economist in the late 1950s. He received the prize "for having enhanced our understanding of conflict and cooperation through game-theory analysis."

    Oct 11, 2005