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UCLA POLSCI 30 - Syllabus

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Updated 3/22/21 1 Poli Sci 30 Politics and Strategy Spring 2019 https://moodle2.sscnet.ucla.edu/course/view/21S-POLSCI30-1 Professor Kathleen Bawn [email protected] Bunche 3363 Welcome to Poli Sci 30! The goal of Poli Sci 30 is to introduce you to game theory in the context of Political Science. Game theory is a mathematical framework for studying strategic situations, that is, situations in which individual players are pursuing conflicting goals. Strategic players try to anticipate what other players will do, remaining aware that others are trying to anticipate them. In a strategic situation, am I trying to outwit you, while knowing that you are trying to outwit me. You know that I know this; I know that you know that I know … It gets complicated. Game theory gives us a system for managing the complexity of strategic situations. Developed by applied mathematicians in the mid-twentieth century, game theory is now widely used by social scientists in political science, economics, and other disciplines. In Poli Sci 30, we will not be concerned with the mathematical theorems that provide game theory’s foundations. (There are courses in the mathematics and economics departments along these lines, for those who are interested.) Rather, our focus will be on using game theory to understand politics and political strategy. What will you learn? In each module, you will learn how to apply game theoretic techniques to real world problems. You will learn to translate a given scenario into a game theoretic model, analyze the model and interpret it in meaningful ways. In doing so, you will learn to understand social interactions in terms of the goals and choices of individual people, that is, in terms of what each person wants and what they can do. You will learn how individual incentives can (sometimes) work against the interests of the group, and what can (sometimes) be done about it. You will also learn to be more aware of the assumptions you make when thinking about political and social interactions. You will learn to use mathematical models to communicate those assumptions and explore their logical consequences. How will the course work? In a typical week, you will do the following: 1. Complete two online asynchronous units (videos plus quizzes, lecture notes and textbook sections.) Required. Units close on Mondays and Wednesdays at 9am. In order to get credit for a quiz, you must complete it before the unit closes. 2. Turn in a homework assignment online. Required. Homework assignments are due on Mondays before 9am. 3. Participate in your assigned synchronous Discussion Section, led by your TA. Required. Thursdays (various times) on Zoom. 4. Participate in a synchronous Workshop, led by Professor Bawn. Recommended but not required. Workshops take place Wednesdays at 11am on Zoom.Updated 3/22/21 2 There will be three exams: one midterm on Monday, April 26, a second midterm on Wednesday, May 19, and a cumulative final exam on Thursday June 10. Each exam is due at 5pm on exam day. The exam questions will be posted on the course website at 5pm on the previous day: you can pick any 2-hour window you want (any 3-hour window for the final) to work it. Units and Lessons. The material we will cover is broken down into 14 units. Each unit is composed of 3-4 lessons and 2 quizzes. Each lesson is a video with accompanying lecture notes. The lessons demonstrate basic game theoretic techniques, showing how they can be applied to help us understand real world problems. The video lessons are typically 15-20 minutes long. You can watch them as often as you like. The same material is covered in the textbook, explained in different ways with examples. Quizzes. Each unit has two quizzes: a Diagnostic Exercise, intended to be taken before viewing the lessons, and an Evaluation Quiz, intended to be taken afterward. The point of the Diagnostic Exercises is to show you what we expect you to learn from the upcoming unit, and to help you identify the most important concepts as you watch the videos. You should not feel embarrassed or concerned if you answer "Don't Know" to the Diagnostic Exercise questions. You will receive one point for each Diagnostic Exercise you complete before the unit closes, regardless of whether your answers are correct or not. The point of the Evaluation Quizzes, in contrast, is to check your understanding of the material at the end of each unit, after watching the videos, going through the lecture notes and reading the textbook. Questions are similar to the Diagnostic Exercises, but now you should expect yourself to be able to answer them correctly. Evaluation Quizzes count for 5% of your course grade. Here are some other things to keep in mind about quizzes. (1) You will need to spend a few minutes setting up and solving the games on paper before answering the multiple-choice questions. (2) In order to get credit for the quizzes, you must finish them by the unit’s closing time (9am on Monday or Wednesday mornings, see Course Schedule.) (3) You will get participation credit for simply submitting the Diagnostic Exercise; your grade is not affected by whether the answer is right or wrong. Your grade on the Evaluation Quizzes does depend on whether the answer is right or wrong, but in a “low stakes” way: if your quiz score is more than 50%, you will get full credit on the quiz. If your score is 50% or less, you will get half credit. If you don’t Workshops Each Wednesday, there will be a Workshop that focuses on setting up and solving a game using the techniques you will need for the following week’s homework. You will first have the chance to work on problems with other students in Breakout Rooms, then Professor Bawn will give her solution and answer questions. Breakout Room Etiquette Working on problems with others is great way to learn game theory. Breakout rooms will be more effective and more fun if everyone does their best to be friendly and inclusive. If you can have your camera on, please do. If having the camera on is a problem, don’t worry about it, just speak up and say hi so that others know you are there. Homework The homework assignments will give you practice using game theoretic models to analyze real world scenarios. These problems are similar to those you will solve on the midterms and final exam. Homework assignments are due by 9am on most Mondays, and count for 10% of your course


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