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2nd Reading

July 8, 2013 13:53 WSPC/0219-1989 151-IGTR

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International Game Theory Review
Vol. 15, No. 3 (2013) 1340021 (10 pages)
c World Scientific Publishing Company 

DOI: 10.1142/S0219198913400215

COOPERATIVE GAME THEORY IN SPORTS


´
¨
CONRADO MANUEL∗ , ENRIQUE GONZALEZ-ARANG
UENA

´
and MONICA DEL POZO

Escuela Universitaria de Estadistica
Universidad Complutense de Madrid
Av. Puerta de Hierro s/n 28040 Madrid, Spain
∗conrado@estad.ucm.es
†egaran@estad.ucm.es
‡mpozojuan@telefonica.net
Received 31 August 2011
Revised 30 March 2012
Accepted 18 March 2013
Published 9 July 2013
This paper contains a survey of cooperative game theory applied to a sports environment.
The variety of these applications serves us as a proof of the strength of cooperative game
theory introducing successful strategies in sports and explaining the behavior of different
actors.
Keywords: Sports; cooperative game theory.
Subject Classification: 22E46, 53C35, 57S20

1. Introduction
In recent years there has been an increasing interest in applying the ideas of game
theory to analyze the environment of sports. The seminal work on the economics of
sport is debt to Rottemberg (1956). Since that date it is frequent to model problems
related to sports using an economic approach and specially the game theory tools
which are now standard in most of the economic literature. The Handbook on the
Economics of Sport (Andreff and Szymanski, 2006) contains an excellent collection
of papers devoted to analyze the environment of sports from an economic point of
view.
Ordinary people, and not only scientists, are interested in sports. Moreover,
game theory is based on a set of ideas that can be explained to the layman. So
it is not surprising that the use of game theory to analyze or to explain problems
related to sports appears frequently in the popular press and on the Internet. See
for example Ronfeldt (2000), Islam (2000), Waters (2001), Varma (2004) or Gupta
(2005).
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we deal with the applications of game theory to the sports field in which the framework can be modeled with a directed graph. As an example we have the order in which players participate. v(S) represents the utility that players in S can obtain if they decide to cooperate. with Π(S) the set of all permutations of players in S. Games are often called battles and fans frequently say that the rival team must be demolished. Sections 3.i∈T 1340021-2 . If we denote G N the vector space of all generalized cooperative games with players set N . w).  1994) is a pair (N. and so on. 2013 13:53 WSPC/0219-1989 151-IGTR 1340021 C. Cooperative Games and Directed Communication Networks In this section. the formation of coalitions is a process in which not only the members of the coalitions are important but also the order in which they appear. A family of point solutions for generalized games is: Ψα i (N. team games. handball. Sometimes. and satisfying w(∅) = 0. Section 2 deals with the applications to sports that use cooperative games and digraphs. t! l=0 αl T ∈Ω(N ). Obviously this order is very relevant when trying to obtain a goal. in a particular play of soccer. The paper ends with a brief section of conclusions. basketball. v) where v (the characteristic function) is a real function defined on 2N . the set of all subsets of N (coalitions). w being a function defined on Ω(N ) = S⊂N Π(S). These networks have been used in the context of sports to describe all type of sport competitions or to describe plays among players in team sports. this paper is devoted to describe those scientific papers that use cooperative models to analyze some particular aspects in sports. Gonz´ alez-Arang¨ uena & M. A game in generalized characteristic function form (Nowak and Radzik. Cooperative games with restrictions given by a digraph have contributed to obtain measures of performances of teams in such sports tournaments or to measure centrality of players in matches of soccer. using aggressive vocabulary. In a directed network each relationship has an initiator and a respondent. 5 and 6 are respectively devoted to applications using status games. the set GN of all TU games can be identified with the subspace of G N consisting of all games w ∈ G N for which w(S) = w(T ) if players in S are those in T . that satisfies v(∅) = 0. emphasizing the particular model used.2nd Reading July 8. multi-choice games and competitive-cooperative games. 4. del Pozo Most of previous cited works use noncooperative models of game theory to analyze sports. w) =  αt−i(T ) ∆∗w (T ) t−1 . For each S ∈ 2N . This is so because sport has traditionally been described in terms of competition. for all S ⊂ N . Manuel. From now on. E. Nevertheless the cooperative game theory has something to say in describing the sport environment. Let us recall that a game in characteristic function form (a coalitional game or a TU game) is a pair (N. these digraphs representing domination in competitions or passes inside a team in different plays in team sports. 2.

1. ir ). j) ∈ d is called an arc. . r − 1. Given d ∈ DN . the β-measure. As for the measuring of the performance. . (i1 . When nodes represent players in team sports. d) ∈ G N and each i ∈ N . For our purposes. i2 . a successor of team i in sport competitions is a team that has been beaten by i. We will denote DN for the set of all possible digraphs with nodes set N . . .1. i = j of elements in N . . the dominance over a player beaten by many other players weights less than the dominance over a player who has only few dominators. 1]. . . defined for the collection of all directed networks: • degree normalization: for every d ∈ DN it holds that 1340021-3  i∈N mi (d) = |d| . The degree measure The degree measure is probably the most traditional representation of scorings in sport competitions. α ∈ [0. Van den Brink and Gilles (2000) characterize this measure in terms of the following properties for an arbitrary measure. d(i) is the set of i-successors (those beaten by i or those to which i pass the ball during a sequence of passes in a given play) and d−1 (i) is the set of i-predecessors. . 2013 13:53 WSPC/0219-1989 151-IGTR 1340021 Cooperative Game Theory in Sports where i(T ) is the position of i in the ordered coalition T . It is defined as the map δ : DN → Rn such that δi (d) = |d(i)| for each (N. was introduced by van den Brink and Gilles (1994) and later analyzed in van den Brink and Gilles (2000). Each pair (i. ˆ ⊂ d(i) for all i ∈ N and |dˆ−1 (i)| = 1 for dˆ ∈ DN is a simple subnetwork of d if d(i) ¯ every dominated player i ∈ d(N ) = {j ∈ N | d−1 (j) = ∅}. is connected in d if the arcs (ik . 2. We will describe two measures here. 1953) for games in GN . the arc (i. For Ψ0 is defined in nos (1997). Cooperative game theory allows us to measure how well different teams perform in sport competition which is represented via a directed network. Nowak and Radzik (1994) and Ψ1 is defined in Sanchez and Berganti¯ A directed network (directed graph or digraph) is a pair (N. An ordered set of nodes in N . ik+1 ) are all in d for k = 1. 1] and ∆∗w (T ) =   w(T ) − R⊂T.2nd Reading July 8. m. d). Cooperative games and domination networks Domination networks have been used to describe sports competitions. 2 . whereas a predecessor is a team that defeated i. . It measures the dominance of each player by the number of wins the player obtains.R=T ∆∗w (R) = R⊂T (−1)t−r w(R). A domination network is a digraph in which each arc represents the victory of the initiator node (team) over the receiver one. 2. For all α ∈ [0. . n} being a set of nodes and d a subset of the collection of all ordered pairs (i.1. j) models a pass from i to j in a particular play of a match. N = {1. . 2. Given d ∈ DN and i ∈ N . j). It is said that i is a predecessor of j and that j is a successor of i. The second one. The first one and the simplest one is the degree of a player in the network. Ψα extends the classical Shapley value (Shapley.

1340021-4 . 2013 13:53 WSPC/0219-1989 151-IGTR 1340021 C.2. for every S ⊂ N . The idea is that in any tournament the value of a team’s victory is decreasing with the number of defeats suffered by the beaten team. The value of a coalition of teams is the number of teams that have been beaten for all the members in the coalition. Manuel. k = l and (c) each player is dominated at most in one subnetwork in this position. • additivity over independent partitionsa : for all d ∈ DN and every independent partition {d1 . The β-measure The β-measure is the function β : DN → Rn defined: βi (d) =  | j∈d(i) |d−1 (j)| for each i ∈ N .   i∈S for all S ⊂ N . (a) d(i) = rk=1 dk (i). Thus. In particular. (b) dk (i) ∩ dl (i) = ∅. . . 2000) • the conservative successor game ud ∈ GN defined ud (S) = |{j ∈ N | d−1 (j) ⊂ S}|. consider the following two TU games: • the optimistic successor game vd ∈ GN . Besides the degree measure has interesting properties and in fact is very used to score the performance in competitions.2nd Reading July 8. del Pozo • dummy position property: for all d ∈ DN and all i ∈ N such that d(i) = ∅. dr } ⊂ DN it holds: m(d) = r  m(dk ). it holds that mi (d) = 0. the β-measure is more related to the cooperative game theory tools. . . Gonz´ alez-Arang¨ uena & M.1. 2. . dr } ⊂ D N such that for S all i ∈ N . . This relation is established in what follows. the value of a coalition is the number of teams that has been beaten by teams in the coalition (van den Brink and Gilles. given d ∈ DN . k=1 Of course. . . E. j ∈ N such that d(i) = d(j) and d−1 (i) = d−1 (j) it holds that mi (d) = mj (d). defined       vd (S) =  d(i). • symmetry: for all d ∈ DN and all i. a An independent partition of a directed network d is a partition {d1 . it can be said that apparently there is no relationship between previous results on the degree measure and game theory. Van den Brink and Gilles (2000) proved that the β-measure of each d ∈ DN is equal to the Shapley value of the optimistic successor game vd and van den Brink and Borm (2002) showed that it coincides as well with the Shapley value of the conservative successor game ud .

Del Pozo et al. even if several years ago they changed the ranking to promote a more offensive play. 1 and 0 points for a win. Of course. (2011a. Norway and Slovenia. other people think that in many situations. Authors propose to assign for each digraph d ∈ DN and each unanimity game uS . can be used to measure centrality of players in team sports and to describe the type of strategy used in order to win matches. ∅ = S ⊂ N . Then the arc (i. Yugoslavia. The β-measure ranks Norway higher than Yugoslavia and even equal to Spain. udS = T ∈Π(S). it will be very difficult to convince the UEFA to apply such a ranking. The coefficients {∆v (S)}S⊂N are known as Harsanyi dividends (Harsanyi. for details. The UEFA is a very conservative organism. as Norway won the match from the stronger team in the group.T connected in d The idea behind this definition is that the connection of players in S admits different possible orders that correspond to the different sequences of passes among players 1340021-5 . Spain. We think that it is not clear if this ranking system would affect the behavior of teams during matches. authors apply it to rank teams in the group C of the UEFA European Soccer Championship (EURO 2000). 4 points. a draw and a loss. Given a game v ∈ GN representing the interests among players. the clubs probably would refuse a system of ranking under which different victories have different reward. basketball.2nd Reading July 8. the UEFA ranks the teams by rewarding them 3. As it is known. There are different theories supporting every side: some people think that teams play very motivated and they do their best. the restricted game udS ∈ G N (the game of to connect S in d) defined by:  wT . 2. j) will model the situation in which player i passes the ball to player j in a particular play of a match of soccer. when they play against a very good team.2. respectively (in the digraph authors represent a draw with two opposite arcs). Different plays give us different digraphs. 2 points. To show the implications of that measure. Because of the different matches results the UEFA ranking was: Spain. handball or a similar team sport. 2011b) develop a game-theoretical centrality measure that. Centrality of players in team sports Let us consider now the situation in which the digraph represents connections or passes among players in team sports. v can be expressed as a linear combination of games in the unanimity basis {uS }∅=S⊂N as follows:  v = ∅=S⊂N ∆v (S)uS . See. Moreover. the β-measure of each d ∈ DN is proportional to the sum of the degree measures of all simple subnetworks of d. van den Brink and Borm (2002) or Gilles (2010). 1963). weak teams save energy and even their best players to play against strong teams so that they can be fresh and have their best players when they play against equal strong teams. Norway. 4 points and Slovenia. Yugoslavia. 2013 13:53 WSPC/0219-1989 151-IGTR 1340021 Cooperative Game Theory in Sports Moreover. This group consisted of the following national teams: Spain. 6 points. in particular. All previous results can be extended to the modified β-measure.

In a related context. a detailed study of accessibility in a concrete example. it can be distinguished a part caused by its communication activity (to pass the ball and to receive it) and another one explained by its control on others’ activity. i. del Pozo d in S. 2013 13:53 WSPC/0219-1989 151-IGTR 1340021 C. To obtain a measure for all games. it is assumed that to pass is easier than to receive because of the pressing of the defenders. Sometimes a soccer player leaves a team because he wants to be the highest paid player (when Eto’o left the FC Barcelona. A middle field player will have grater betweenness centrality (as his job generally consists of connecting defenders with forwards. In their model. betweenness and reception centralities. The total sum of centralities of players in a team gives us some idea of the strategy followed by that team. Moreover. (2010) establish conditions on cooperative games so that they can be used to measure accessibility to the nodes in a directed graph. The so defined measures are stable (nondecreasing for both incident players when adding an arc) for almost positive games and can be characterized in terms of component efficiency and α-directed fairness (except for α = 0). Embedded in the centrality of each play. Manuel. Status Games With the aim of analyzing status using the mathematical tools of game theory. it was said that he wanted to earn more money than Messi). If we apply this to players in a soccer match we obtain a description of the type of participation in the game for different positions in the team. In this case α ∈ [0. (2011b). permutations of N . E. In general. The centrality for player i in a particular play d is defined as Ψα i (N. uS ). is offered. Amer et al. In many frameworks the amount of money that receives an actor is less important than his position or rank in relation to others.e. 3. the centrality of each player is the city-block modulus of the three-dimensional vector of emission. and these ones have more reception centrality because they tend to finish the different plays. the European Basketball Championship (EUROBASKET 2009). they use generalized TU games (games in generalized characteristic function form) as they were introduced by Nowak and Radzik (1994) and studied later by S´ anchez and Berganti˜ nos (1997) and del Pozo et al. Typically the centrality of defenders will be higher for the emission component as they usually start plays.2nd Reading July 8. Quint and Shubik (1999) introduced the status games: n-player cooperative games in which the outcomes are orderings of the actors within a hierarchy. Gonz´ alez-Arang¨ uena & M. 1] is a parameter that measures the relative difficulty of passing the ball with respect to controlling it. The theory of status-games 1340021-6 . tennis players place more importance on their position in ATP ranking than on the amount of money they earn. The total centrality of a player can be obtained as some weighted combination of his centralities in different plays dk . In general. As a consequence. For teams that dominate the game and the ball possessing time the total centrality will be higher than the corresponding total one for teams with a more direct style based on long passes or in fast counterattacks. authors extend previous definition using linearity.. Sports appear in the paper as examples of the importance of the ‘position relative to others’.

They define a team game as a game that vanishes on all coalitions S ⊂ N but those of a certain fixed cardinality. Then. n} is a set of individual objects (physical goods. Formally an OOP game is a quadruple (N. Authors define a condition of “balance” on the family {ΠS }S⊂N to guarantee that the core of the game is nonempty. then PS1 + PS2 ∈ Π(S1 ∪ S2 ). if we think of N as the set of all players in the Spanish Soccer League and v(S) is the worth of a soccer team “on the ground” then only makes sense to consider v(S) for coalitions of cardinality 11. Later.and endostatus games. . R is a matrix of rankings and Π(S) is the set of all orderings that S can effect. J = {1. Team Games Section 4 in Hern´ andez-Lamoneda and S´ anchez-S´anchez (2010) deals with “team games”. in which the space of games was decomposed as a direct sum of three orthogonal subspaces: the subspace of symmetric games. Quint and Shubik (2001) distinguish two classes of status games based on what is assumed about the capabilities of a coalition S ⊂ N : exo-status games and endo-status games. it is assumed that such a coalition is capable of enacting orderings over all n players. In these games each coalition has an exogenously given set ΠS of rankings of positions (matrices) that its members can enforce. (iii) super-additivity (if PS1 ∈ Π(S1 ). another subspace that they call U (and that does 1340021-7 .. using the mathematical tools of game theory. In endo-status games. i. in which N = {1. This is to be “the largest possible” class of games in which players may express their preferences ordinary over a set of single objects with which they are to be matched. (ii) they cannot both assign the same object. In this last paper. Authors make certain “consistency” assumptions about the sets {Π(S)}S⊆N : (i) disjoint coalitions cannot both have the power to assign objets to the same player. each coalition S is only capable of guaranteeing certain positions for its s members. they look at the power indices ranking of the players for these team games. this means that player i attains the jth best position. Finally. . J. but it has no control over the positions that the remaining n − s players can occupy in the hierarchy. the closer to the first place. For example. Authors use results in Hern´andez-Lamoneda and Ju´ arez (2007). . {Π(S)}S⊆N ).e. n} is the players set. if i occupies the position j in the permutation. and show that there is essentially one possible power index ranking (up to sign) for them. outcomes are represented by permutations of N where. . and it is assumed that players will always desire to be placed as far ‘up’ as possible in the hierarchy. authors define the core of an OOP game and prove that this core is nonempty. . PS2 ∈ Π(S2 ) and S1 ∩ S2 = ∅. 2013 13:53 WSPC/0219-1989 151-IGTR 1340021 Cooperative Game Theory in Sports analyzes the status. 4. .2nd Reading July 8. In exo-status games. or else positions in a hierarchy). 2. This broader class includes the exo. In a status game with set of players N . authors also define another class of games: the one-to-one ordinal preference (OOP) games. 2. . . as cars. R. instead of the wealth. the more possible.

Authors apply game theory in the analysis of the consequences of making a decision on tactical performance of an individual player in a team sport for both the player’s and opponent’s teams. To illustrate their results. authors use the basketball example. football. Then. This problem can be modeled as a multi-choice game in which players are the sport teams and the activity levels. and the common kernel of all linear symmetric solutions. 6. they propose the setting of sport leagues such as Major League Baseball (MLB) or National Basketball Association (NBA). different indices when applied to all the players rank them differently and not all of them ranks Michael Jordan on the top? 5. They define a ‘theoretical’ team game of five players for basketball which then implies a ranking for the players. The central part of the article is devoted to analyzing hypothetical situations in relation to the predictability of a player’s tactical performance during a game. Multi-Choice Games Chou and Hsiao (2010) use multi-choice games to provide some sport applications on the 21st Summer Deaflympics. an answer to “The Michael Jordan problem” (Saari and Sieberg. with n basketball players and s = 5 for the cardinality of the only relevant coalitions.2nd Reading July 8. The duplicate core (Hwang and Liao. The problem of cooperation between the players in the same team during the sport competition (between two teams) is simultaneously considered. and they provide. 1993) is a generalization of standard cooperative TU game. 2001): how it is possible that. and the effect onto the tactical performance efficiency of the players of his own or 1340021-8 . Manuel. These are the so-called sport games (basketball. the sponsor plan and the arrangement experience) to the axioms of the duplicate core. Competitive-Cooperative Games In a recent paper (Sindik and Vidak. the family of marketing strategies available to each one. even though everyone agrees Michael Jordan is the best basketball player in the NBA. Chen and Lin (2010) also use the multi-choice TU games and the duplicate core to analyze the sport management: as an example. etc). Chou and Hsiao (2010) relate some of the critical factors that Chen and Chen (2009) cite as primordial in the success of Taiwan holding international sport games (political situation. 2013 13:53 WSPC/0219-1989 151-IGTR 1340021 C. in this way. In a multi-choice TU game. For TU games the activity level of each player is dichotomous: he is fully or not at all involved in the game. 2008). 2009) for multi-choice games is an extension of the core solutions for TU games. E. soccer. each actor has a finite set of different activity levels. volleyball. A multi-choice game (Hsiao and Raghavan. Gonz´ alez-Arang¨ uena & M. externally competitive (competition between two teams) but internally cooperative (inside the same team) team sports are analyzed. del Pozo not have a natural definition in terms of well-known game theoretic considerations). political operation.

K. predictability will generally be better than unpredictability. 7. nonzero sum. and Maga˜ na. J. This work has been supported by the “Plan Nacional de I+D+i” of the Spanish Government. 8. Conclusion We hope that readers take some advantage from our effort. sequential game of imperfect information (all players have some knowledge about the moves previously made by all other players.2nd Reading July 8. H. Far East J. in spite of the author’s claims. Spain. coaches and teams in many situations. A player cannot make decisions only depending on opponent team tactical performances (competitive game). we think. Chen.) [2006] Handbook on the Economics of Sport (Edward Elgal Publishing Ltd. We apologize to their authors for this. Andreff. Sport Manag. Proc. 42(2). 301–312.. and Lin. References Amer. Gim´enez. cooperative game theory does not play a relevant role in their model. M. A. UK). W. more contributions based on the use of cooperative games appear. and Chen. Of course. Math. there are probably papers that have been omitted and deserve to be heard. Taiwan Soc. From the (very simplified) hypothesis made by the authors. To sum up. A Coru˜ na. in the future. [2009] A study on critical succesful factors of holding international sport games in Taiwan. 17–33. [2010] Nodes of directed graphs ranked by solutions defined on cooperative games. W. Four different possible situations during team sport competition appear when considering predictability or nonpredictability (for the individual’s tactical and technical actions) in relation with players in the same team or opponents (players in the opponent’s team).. He must simultaneously consider the tactical performance of his co-players in the same team (cooperative game). Our goal is mainly to provide the examples we know in which the models of cooperative game theory apply to the analysis of the sports environment. T. and Szymanski. C. Acknowledgments We would like to thank three anonymous referees for their helpful comments. Chentelhan. It is assumed that predictability in team sports can be explained as an asymmetric (individuals do not have the same importance in team performance). S. [2010] Axiomatizations and applications of the duplicate core: A case study on sport management. J. Chen. The variety of applications is useful as a proof of the strength of game theory introducing successful models to explain the behavior of sportsmen. but not all their moves). Y. because of the versatility of game theory we hope that. This is so for the players in the same team and for the ones in the opponent’s team. L. XXXII National Meeting of Statistic and Operation Reseatch. Nevertheless. 2013 13:53 WSPC/0219-1989 151-IGTR 1340021 Cooperative Game Theory in Sports opponent team. H. (eds. under the project MTM2008-06778-C02-02/MTM. 1340021-9 . Sci. R.

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