Stochastic superiority equilibrium in game theory

Ali Yekkehkhany, Timothy Murray, Rakesh Nagi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The definition of best response for a player in the Nash equilibrium is based on maximizing the expected utility given the strategy of the rest of the players in a game. In this work, we consider stochastic games, that is, games with random payoffs, in which a finite number of players engage only once or at most a limited number of times. In such games, players may choose to deviate from maximizing their expected utility. This is because maximizing expected utility strategy does not address the uncertainty in payoffs. We instead define a new notion of a stochastic superiority best response. This notion of best response results in a stochastic superiority equilibrium in which players choose to play the strategy that maximizes the probability of them being rewarded the most in a single round of the game rather than maximizing the expected received reward, subject to the actions of other players. We prove the stochastic superiority equilibrium to exist in all finite games, that is, games with a finite number of players and actions, and numerically compare its performance to Nash equilibrium in finite-time stochastic games. In certain cases, we show the payoff under the stochastic superiority equilibrium is 70% likely to be higher than the payoff under Nash equilibrium.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-168
Number of pages16
JournalDecision Analysis
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Prospect theory
  • Risk aversion
  • Stochastic game theory
  • Stochastic superiority equilibrium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Decision Sciences


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