Carbon Robotics
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Carbon Robotics is proud to support Robots in Depth in elevating the global robotics ecosystem through expert interviews that share a deep knowledge of frontier robotics technologies and artificial intelligence.

Nicole Immorlica

This week in robots in depth



Nicole talks about game theory, a way to understand how intelligent agents, humans or machines, interact and optimize their outcome in a particular context.

Nicole discusses how this process can be used to create user interactions that are understandable and can be used efficiently.

We also hear about how dynamic games apply to robotics and how robots deal with the ever-changing world they act in.

Get to know more about Nicole Immorlica



What first got nicole passionate about game theory and what most excites you know?

Nicole wanted to combine her love for mathematics with a human element. She looked for a way to relate her research more to people and society and to help her understand the world. She was inspired by Alvin Roth and how mathematics can be used to design markets and predict behavior and optimize outcome. A trend is to add the large amounts of data we generate to game theory and tune our models and expand the scope where game theory can be applied.

What's the biggest misconception people have about game theory? what's surprised you?

That it is to abstract and that it makes unrealistic assumptions. The assumptions made in game theory around agents utility functions and that agents understand what actions are going to optimize towards their goal. She sees these abstractions not as a problem but as a solution, as a lens we can use to focus on small part of problem and understand how changing that can affect the are we are working on. She was surprised by how well game theory can be used to explain behavior that is not optimal for example procrastination. Here we can explain how agents fail to properly relate today's cost to a future cost.

What advice would you give to someone getting into the field now?

If you are trying to design a system using game theory you need to take a grand approach and see the hole system. You have to understand that the rules you construct will affect actions and interactions in your system. You also have to think carefully about your objectives and how they relate to each other and the agents of the systems.

Nicole Immorlica

Nicole's research lies broadly within the field of algorithmic game theory. Using tools and modeling concepts from both theoretical computer science and economics, Nicole hopes to explain, predict, and shape behavioral patterns in various online and offline systems, markets, and games. Her areas of specialty include social networks and mechanism design. Nicole received her Ph.D. from MIT in Cambridge, MA in 2005 and then completed three years of postdocs at both Microsoft Research in Redmond, WA and CWI in Amsterdam, Netherlands before accepting a job as an assistant professor at Northwestern University in Chicago, IL in 2008. She joined the Microsoft Research New England Lab in 2012.

Previously on Robots In Depth