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## Grading a game theory course

A few days ago I re-heard the story of how the game-theory course in the Technion was graded. I’ve heard versions where the professor was Ran Smorodinsky and other versions with Dov Monderer, but I haven’t checked out what “really” happened. (Anyone with the real facts is welcome to send in a comment…) Here is the story.

In the last day of class, the Professor gathered all the students and made the following offer: He wants to have an average grade of X (say 80) in the course with a standard deviation of Y (say 15). If all students agree upon everybody’s grades in a way that conforms to these constraints, then this is how they will be graded, and the exam will be canceled. Otherwise, the scheduled exam will take place as usual and will determine the grades. The professor then left the class and let the students try to reach a joint decision.

Some versions of the story continue thus: the best student in class immediately got up; said that she will not accept anything less than 100; and immediately left the room too.

### 9 Responses

1. The story would be more dramatic if it was the worst student who got up demanding a 100..

2. I guess she was sure about scoring 100. If I would have been best student, I guess, I would have also done the same thing. I don’t think worst student in game theory course should be demanding 100 when the average is gonna to b 80. nice strategy by professor.

3. IIRC, it was Dov Monderer, and the story is inaccurate. For historical evidence (in hebrew): http://ie.technion.ac.il/~dov/gt96572_08/gt096572_08_syl.html

4. Thanks. As usual, the story turns out to be an “improved” version of the truth.

5. The grading method in the post belongs to Rann and it is pretty accurate. I think that he also required that one student will get 100. Indeed one student left the room saying she deserves 100. He had a different method a year later, which I can’t recall.

Dov followed Rann with a different method, given in the link above by technionist.

• If even in the scientific world people write with certainty not-true facts, what do we expect from politics? My first grading technique based on playing a game was in 1990\91 (the internet was not that developed at that time). The result was a violent behavior of some of the students toward one of the deviating students. So, I stopped doing it. I guess, Moshe remembers it. My second attempt, the one which recorded at the internet, was made, a few years later, after the first attempt of Rann, but long after my first attempt, which was long before Rann’s first attempt.
Sorry for reacting so late, but I was hospitalized and busy with other things.

6. I got the following email from Rann which verifies the story:

Hi Noam

1. It was actually my scheme and I ran it for three different classes. In two of them it worked out and in one I had to resort to an exam.

2. Later Dov designed his own mechanism, which is referenced in one of the comments, nd which is not the one you describe.

3. The mechanism itself asserted additionally that the students must submit their grades individually and personally, so in case of defection the identity of the defector would remain discreet.

4. Indeed it was the (by far) best student who demanded the 100 and left the room. She deserved it and got it.

5. The one time the mechanism failed was when I got a student’s utility wrong. In particular this student told me after the mechanism collapsed that he/she did not care so much about the grade but was more interested to know how much I would grade her.

6. “I’ve heard versions where the professor was Ran Smorodinsky and other versions with Dov Monderer, but I haven’t checked out what “really” happened. (Anyone with the real facts is welcome to send in a comment…)” Not that it is so important but … it would have been quite easy to check it out.

7. Rann … not Ran

8. Although this ‘comment’ is personal you can freely communicate any of it to anyone J. For my own reasons I did not use the blog comment option.

Rann

Rann Smorodinsky

Industrial Engineering & Management

Technion

Haifa 32000

Israel

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This post was mentioned on Twitter by alexandreagular: Coordination game in class rooms : http://bit.ly/7N34zy #gametheory #socialchoice #priceofanarchy…

8. […] a similar example at Turing’s Invisible Hand, a blog about algorithmic game theory. The story goes that a professor tells the class he will […]