How Are Game Theory and AI Related?


Jane Flores

Game theory and artificial intelligence (AI) are two fields that have been closely related for decades. In fact, game theory is often used as a foundational concept in the development of AI systems.

Game theory is the study of strategic decision-making, where multiple agents interact with each other to achieve a goal. On the other hand, AI is the simulation of intelligent behavior in machines. In this article, we will explore how these two fields are related.

Game Theory

Game theory was first introduced by mathematician John von Neumann and economist Oskar Morgenstern in their 1944 book “Theory of Games and Economic Behavior”. Game theory helps us understand how individuals or groups interact with each other to achieve a goal. In game theory, we model these interactions as games, where each player has a set of strategies to choose from and their payoff depends on the strategy choices made by all players.

AI and Game Theory

AI systems are designed to mimic intelligent human behavior. They rely on algorithms to make decisions based on input data.

Game theory provides a framework for designing algorithms that can make strategic decisions. By using game theory concepts, AI systems can be developed to better understand the decisions made by other agents and predict their future behavior.

One of the most common applications of game theory in AI is in multi-agent systems. These are systems that involve multiple agents interacting with each other to achieve a common goal. Multi-agent systems are used in various real-world applications such as traffic control, supply chain management, and robotics.

Nash Equilibrium

A Nash equilibrium is a solution concept in game theory that describes a state where no player can improve their payoff by unilaterally changing their strategy choice. This concept is widely used in AI to develop algorithms that can learn optimal strategies for multi-agent systems.

For example, consider two players playing rock-paper-scissors. The Nash equilibrium for this game is for both players to choose their strategy randomly. In this case, neither player can improve their payoff by changing their strategy.

Reinforcement Learning

Reinforcement learning is a type of machine learning that involves an agent learning by interacting with its environment. In reinforcement learning, the agent receives feedback in the form of rewards or punishments based on its actions. Reinforcement learning algorithms can be designed using game theory concepts to learn optimal strategies in multi-agent systems.

For example, in a game of chess, an AI agent can use reinforcement learning to learn the optimal moves against different opponents. The agent can learn from its previous experiences and adjust its strategy accordingly to maximize its chances of winning.


In conclusion, game theory provides a framework for designing algorithms that can make strategic decisions and predict the behavior of other agents in multi-agent systems. AI systems rely on game theory concepts to mimic intelligent human behavior and make optimal decisions based on input data. By combining these two fields, we can develop more advanced AI systems that can better understand and interact with the world around us.