What Are the Characteristics of Game Theory in Operation Research?


Diego Sanchez

Game theory is a mathematical framework that deals with the study of strategic decision-making between two or more rational individuals or groups. It has become an essential tool in various fields such as economics, political science, psychology, and biology. In operation research, game theory is used to analyze the behavior of individuals or groups in different situations.

Characteristics of Game Theory

  • Interdependence: One of the fundamental characteristics of game theory is that it deals with situations where the outcome for one individual or group depends on the actions taken by others. This interdependence creates an incentive for each player to consider their opponent’s actions when making their own decisions.
  • Rationality: Game theory assumes that all players are rational and will always choose the option that maximizes their payoff. This assumption allows analysts to predict how individuals or groups will behave in different scenarios.
  • Strategic interaction: Game theory involves strategic interaction between players where each player’s action affects not only their own payoff but also their opponent’s payoff. Players must anticipate each other’s moves and choose their actions accordingly.
  • Predictive power: Game theory has predictive power, meaning it can be used to forecast outcomes in different scenarios. Analysts can use game theory to determine which strategies are likely to be successful and which ones are not.
  • Multiple Equilibria: Game theory often results in multiple equilibria where both players have optimal strategies. This creates uncertainty about which equilibrium will be reached, making it challenging to predict outcomes accurately.

The Different Types of Games in Operation Research

Game theory in operations research can be broadly classified into two types – cooperative and non-cooperative games.

Cooperative Games

In cooperative games, players work together to maximize their joint payoff. They can communicate and form coalitions to achieve their common goals. Cooperative games are used in situations where players have a common interest, such as in business partnerships or labor unions.

Non-Cooperative Games

In non-cooperative games, players act independently and make decisions based on their self-interest. They do not communicate or form coalitions with other players. Non-cooperative games are used in situations where players have conflicting interests, such as in competitive markets or political elections.


Game theory is a powerful tool that can be used to analyze the behavior of individuals or groups in different scenarios. Its characteristics, such as interdependence, rationality, strategic interaction, predictive power, and multiple equilibria make it an essential tool in operations research. Understanding the different types of games – cooperative and non-cooperative – can help analysts choose the appropriate game theory models for different situations.