PS 1514 (2016)

PS 1514: Political Strategy in International Relations
William Spaniel
Fall 2016
Lecture: Tu/Th 11:00-12:15, Benedum Hall G36
Office Hours: Posvar Hall 4446, Tu 1:30-3:30

Problem Set #1
Problem Set #2
Problem Set #3

12/6: Perverse Incentives
A note on the last part from class that we did not have time to finish.

My final office hours this semester will be on Friday from 1:30 to 3:30.

12/1: Mechanism Design
Reading: Uncertainty and Incentives in Crisis Bargaining: Game-Free Analysis of International Conflict

11/29: Rubinstein Bargaining and Enforcement
Lectures: Rubinstein Bargaining with Identical Discount Factors, Rubinstein Bargaining with Distinct Discount Factors

Note: The proofs in those videos are slightly different from the proof strategy we used in class.

Reading: Rewarding Impatience: A Bargaining and Enforcement Model of OPEC

11/22: Repeated Prisoner’s Dilemma
A few things to note here. Anticipating that a good portion of the class would be absent due to the break, I shifted the repeated prisoner’s dilemma to today. This is because the subject is similar to what you have experienced before and I have much better online resources for it. (See below.) I have updated the syllabus accordingly.

The final problem set is available here.

Reading: The Evolution of Cooperation.

Lectures: Repeated Prisoner’s Dilemma (Finite), Discount Factors, Geometric Series and Infinite Payoffs, Grim Trigger

Please note that we will be continuing with the repeated prisoner’s dilemma next Tuesday. It is imperative that you watch the videos before then if you missed class.

11/15 and 11/17: Bargaining over Costly Power
No readings!

11/10: Midterm Hand Backs
I posted an updated syllabus.

11/8: Midterm

11/3: Bargaining over Power
Readings: Bargaining over Power

11/1: Preventive War
No readings for today.

I will hold a special office hours session on 11/2 from 2 pm to 4 pm. The regularly scheduled office hours for 11/8 are cancelled. (These would have immediately followed a midterm, which makes them pointless.)

10/27: Bargaining and Learning while Fighting
Readings: Bargaining and War.

10/25: Increasing the Costs of War
A note from class.

Readings: External Subsidies and Lasting Peace

10/13: Uncertainty over Power and Cheap Talk
This video might be useful.

Reminder: We will not be meeting next week. Enjoy fall break!

10/11: Uncertainty over Costs
Problem Set #2 is now available. As a reminder, you will not have to turn in the problem set. Rather, all quantitative questions on the second midterm will come directly from it.

Videos: As mentioned in class, there will no longer be consistent videos to compliment materials presented in class.

10/6: War’s Inefficiency Puzzle
Readings: Rationalist Explanations for War

Videos: Algebraic Bargaining Model of War, War’s Bargaining Range, Crisis Bargaining

10/4: Bargaining
Videos: The Ultimatum Game, Uniqueness Proof for the Ultimatum Game, Outside Options

I will also be passing back the midterms. Here is a breakdown of the average grades by question:


9/22: Comparative Statics
Videos: Probability Distributions, Generalized Battle of the Sexes, Establishing Causation, Comparative Statics

Note that the videos go over the comparative statics method using derivatives. Please read this document if you want to review the epsilon method, which will get you through the course but is not nearly as good.

Reminder: Office hours next week are on Monday from 1:30 to 3:30 pm.

9/20: Subgame Perfect Equilibrium
Videos: Subgame Perfect Equilibrium, Backward Induction, How NOT to Write a Subgame Perfect Equilibrium, Multiple Subgame Perfect Equilibria, Commitment Problems

You are now capable of doing all of the problems in the first unit of the problem set.

9/15: Calculating Payoffs and Efficiency
Videos: Battle of the Sexes, Calculating Payoffs, Pareto Efficiency

You are now capable of doing all of the problems in the first unit of the problem set.

9/13: Mixed Strategy Nash Equilibrium
Some brief notes:

  • The class scheduled for 9/27 has been turned into a catchup/review session. I will discuss bargaining during 10/4. The syllabus has been updated to reflect this.
  • Accordingly, problem 2.5 has been removed from the problem set. The posted problem set has been updated to reflect this.
  • To better space out opportunities to ask questions, I will hold office hours on Monday 9/26 from 1:30 to 3:30. Office hours on Tuesday 9/27 are canceled.

Videos: Mixed Strategy Nash Equilibrium, The Mixed Strategy Algorithm, How NOT to Write a Mixed Strategy Nash Equilibrium

9/8: Nash Equilibrium
Videos: Stag Hunt and Pure Strategy Nash Equilibrium, What Is a Nash Equilibrium?, Best Responses

9/6: Dominance
Videos: The Prisoner’s Dilemma and Strictly Dominated Strategies, Iterated Elimination of Strictly Dominated Strategies

Notes from 8/30
I forgot to say today that the class is not designed to be hard, but it does require effort. Students who put in the time almost always do well.

I have put in a classroom change request. More information to come.

If you’d like to preview the first month’s worth of materials, check this playlist: