Introduction to game theory

by Martin J. Osborne

Cover of book

An introduction to game theory presents the main models of game theory as simply as possible while maintaining complete precision. It includes a wide variety of illustrations from the social and behavioral sciences and over 200 exercises. See the table of contents for the topics covered.

A Greek translation (Εισαγωγή στη θεωρία παιγνίων), a Chinese translation, an International Edition, an English edition published in China, and an English edition published in India are available. The text of all English language editions is identical.


The book is intended for undergraduates and graduate students with no background in game theory.


The book emphasizes the ideas behind the theory rather than their mathematical expression, but at the same time is precise. Its general structure resembles that of my book A course in game theory with Ariel Rubinstein, with some exceptions.


Little mathematical knowledge is required. Calculus, for example, is virtually absent (and can be avoided entirely). No specific mathematical knowledge beyond that taught in high school is assumed, though an ability to follow extended logical arguments is assumed.

possible courses

The book contains much more material than can be covered in a one semester course. A basic course would cover the chapters in Part I (Nash equilibrium (theory and illustrations), mixed strategy equilibrium, extensive games with perfect information, coalitional games and the core).

Alternatively, by skipping some of the material in these chapters (some of the illustrations of Nash equilibrium, for example), one might cover, in addition, one or more of the chapters in Parts II or III.



From the back cover of the book (with affiliations at the time of the endorsements):

"This is a textbook to be enjoyed both by professors and students, full of clever and often original applications and examples. Serious students who use this text are likely to emerge with a new way of thinking about much of what they see in the real world."—Ted Bergstrom, Professor of Economics, University of California, Santa Barbara

"A great book, by far the best out there in the market in thoroughness and structure."—Dorothea Herreiner, Assistant Professor of Economics, Bowdoin College

"The ideal textbook for applied game theory .... It teaches basic game theory from the ground up, using just enough clearly defined technical terminology and ranging from traditional basics to the most modern tools."—Randy Calvert, Professor of Political Science, Washington University in St. Louis

"The approach is intuitive, yet rigorous. Key concepts are explained through a series of examples to guide students through analysis. The examples are then followed by interesting and challenging questions. The main strength is the impressive set of exercises ... they are extremely well organized and incredibly broad, ranging from easy questions to those for adventurous students."—In-Koo Cho, William Kinkead Distinguished Professor of Economics, University of Illinois

"The book is excellent. It is chock full of exercises that are both interesting and applicable to real issues, allowing me great flexibility in focusing on specific examples to illustrate the theory."—Christopher Proulx, Assistant Professor of Economics, University of California, Santa Barbara

"What distinguishes this book from other texts is its remarkable combination of rigor and accessibility. The central concepts of game theory are presented with the mathematical precision suitable for a graduate course, but with an abundance of wide-ranging examples that will give undergraduate students a concrete understanding of what the concepts mean and how they may be used."—Charles A. Wilson, Professor of Economics, New York University


Roger Myerson Roger Myerson, the David L. Pearson Distinguished Service Professor of Global Conflict Studies in the Harris School of Public Policy and the Griffin Department of Economics at the University of Chicago; winner of Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science, 2007.

sample chapters

solution manual

A solution manual covers all exercises in the book. (This manual includes the solutions to exercises marked in the book as having a solution available only to instructors. Versions of the full solution manual are now available on websites out of my control, so restricting the manual no longer makes sense.)