Chapter 14

The Complexity of Computing Equilibria

Christos Papadimitriou*    * University of California, Berkeley, USA


In one of the most influential existence theorems in mathematics, John F. Nash proved in 1950 that any normal form game has an equilibrium. More than five decades later, it was shown that the computational task of finding such an equilibrium is intractable, that is, unlikely to be carried out within any feasible time limits for large enough games. This chapter develops the necessary background and formalism from the theory of algorithms and complexity developed in computer science, in order to understand this result, its context, its proof, and its implications.


Normal form games

Nash equilibrium

Algorithms ...

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