Game of Life

Photo of Case Western Reserve professor Roman Sheremeta Roman Sheremeta was named a 2019 Best 40 Under 40 MBA Professor by Poets & Quants, a website and magazine covering business and management education.

Class Name:
Game Theory: The Economics of Thinking Strategically

Taught by:
Roman Sheremeta, PhD, an associate professor of economics at Case Western Reserve's Weatherhead School of Management.

What makes this class for undergraduates and graduate students intriguing:
Students explore a variety of games to learn the underlying tenets of "game theory," a framework used to delve into the actions and interactions of people as they pursue a goal strategically and rationally.

Consider, for example, the prisoner's dilemma game, in which two partners in crime are captured and questioned in separate cells. Do they hold firm in claiming their innocence? Turn on each other?

"Game theory predicts that people should not cooperatespan> they should basically act in their self-interest," he said, adding that when the game goes against what's expected, it spawns a discussion. "We debate what's going onwhy does the theory not work, or why it does work."

The class also is about real life and how students can view complicated global situations through the lens of game theory or devise strategies for life's daily challenges, such as how to bargain when buying a car.

Sheremetaa former chess prodigy who competed professionally as a teenager in his native Ukraineencourages students to bring in their favorite games and then does on-the-fly analyses of their underlying strategies.

But he stressed that game theory often only goes so far in explaining human behavior.

"I try to teach them that when we think strategically, we always have to account for the level of rationality of the people we interact with," he said. "It's really important for students to get this idea of why things work or don't work the way that they should."

— Annie Zaleski