Game theory with translucent players

Joseph Y. Halpern*, Rafael Pass

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A traditional assumption in game theory is that players are opaque to one another—if a player changes strategies, then this change in strategies does not affect the choice of other players’ strategies. In many situations this is an unrealistic assumption. We develop a framework for reasoning about games where the players may be translucent to one another; in particular, a player may believe that if she were to change strategies, then the other player would also change strategies. Translucent players may achieve significantly more efficient outcomes than opaque ones. Our main result is a characterization of strategies consistent with appropriate analogues of common belief of rationality. Common Counterfactual Belief of Rationality (CCBR) holds if (1) everyone is rational, (2) everyone counterfactually believes that everyone else is rational (i.e., all players i believe that everyone else would still be rational even if i were to switch strategies), (3) everyone counterfactually believes that everyone else is rational, and counterfactually believes that everyone else is rational, and so on. CCBR characterizes the set of strategies surviving iterated removal of minimax-dominated strategies, where a strategy σ for player i is minimax dominated by σ if the worst-case payoff for i using σ is better than the best possible payoff using σ.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)949-976
Number of pages28
JournalInternational Journal of Game Theory
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2018
Externally publishedYes


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