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Equilibrium Refinement for the Age of Machines: The One-Sided Quasi-Perfect Equilibrium

Gabriele Farina · Tuomas Sandholm

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In two-player zero-sum extensive-form games, Nash equilibrium prescribes optimal strategies against perfectly rational opponents. However, it does not guarantee rational play in parts of the game tree that can only be reached by the players making mistakes. This can be problematic when operationalizing equilibria in the real world among imperfect players. Trembling-hand refinements are a sound remedy to this issue, and are subsets of Nash equilibria that are designed to handle the possibility that any of the players may make mistakes. In this paper, we initiate the study of equilibrium refinements for settings where one of the players is perfectly rational (the ``machine'') and the other may make mistakes. As we show, this endeavor has many pitfalls: many intuitively appealing approaches to refinement fail in various ways. On the positive side, we introduce a modification of the classical quasi-perfect equilibrium (QPE) refinement, which we call the one-sided quasi-perfect equilibrium. Unlike QPE, one-sided QPE only accounts for mistakes from one player and assumes that no mistakes will be made by the machine. We present experiments on standard benchmark games and an endgame from the famous man-machine match where the AI Libratus was the first to beat top human specialist professionals in heads-up no-limit Texas hold'em poker. We show that one-sided QPE can be computed more efficiently than all known prior refinements, paving the way to wider adoption of Nash equilibrium refinements in settings with perfectly rational machines (or humans perfectly actuating machine-generated strategies) that interact with players prone to mistakes. We also show that one-sided QPE tends to play better than a Nash equilibrium strategy against imperfect opponents.

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