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GaNe [geɪn]

FutureLab on Game Theory & Networks of Interacting Agents

FutureLab on Game Theory and Networks of Interacting Agents

Mitigating climate change requires cooperation on an unprecedented scale, from local communities to the international sphere. Significant progress has been made in describing how individuals behave and interact: while game theory describes fundamental problems such as free-riding, networks can represent the complex structure of the global community, and behavioral economics and social psychology analyze how agents learn from experience and social interactions. Still, modeling decision making across different scales remains an interdisciplinary challenge. How cooperation may or may not emerge is an open question.

In this cross-institutional FutureLab between PIK and MCC, established in January 2019 and hosted by PIK's Research Department 4, a small team of interdisciplinary researchers explores and develops cutting-edge modeling and analysis methods for complex decision situations with several decision makers, and applies these to problems in national and international climate policy and sustainable management.

Main Research Questions

  • What are innovative theories and methods to study agents’ strategic interactions?
  • What incentives and mechanisms result in reducing emissions?
  • How should one design policy instruments and institutions to enhance cooperation on climate change mitigation?


Current members of GaNe are

  • Ulrike Kornek (MCC, lab leader)
  • Jobst Heitzig (PIK RD4, lab leader)
  • Marc Wiedermann (PIK RD4, postdoc)
  • Sarah Hiller (FU Berlin and PIK RD4, PhD student)
  • Jakob Kolb (PIK RD4, PhD student)
  • Simon Feindt (MCC, PhD student)
  • Tanja Holstein (PIK RD4, master student)
  • Paul Müller (PIK RD4, master student)
We welcome applications by masters' students of economics, mathematics, physics, and computer science for co-supervision of thesis work relating to our research questions. Just contact us to discuss possible thesis topics. Examples of possible thesis topics are listed below.


In our work, we combine concepts and ideas from

  • classical and evolutionary game theory
  • behavioural economics and social psychology of decision making
  • agent-based models of individual and social learning
  • dynamical systems, complex networks, and statistical physics
  • optimal control and viability theory
  • welfare theory and formal ethics
  • political science of institutions
  • mathematical logics and order theory


Our current research focusses on

Work in progress

The following publications are currently under review:

  • Asano YM, Kolb JJ, Heitzig J, Farmer JD: Emergent inequality and endogenous dynamics in a simple behavioral macroeconomic model (submitted to PNAS)
  • Kornek U, Edenhofer O: The strategic dimension of financing global public goods ("Revise and Resubmit" at European Economic Review)
  • Emmerling J, Kornek U, Bosetti V, Lessmann K: The catastrophe smile – The effect of climate thresholds on coalition formation ("Revise and Resubmit" at Review of International Organizations)
  • Kornek U, Klenert D, Edenhofer O, Fleurbaey M: The social cost of carbon: How local redistribution shapes global carbon prices (submitted to Journal of Public Economics)


At the date of establishment of GaNe in January 2019, we build on the following works from our earlier work, many of which were carried out in the copan project:

Examples of possible thesis topics

  • Numerical simulation of individual and social learning dynamics in simple games and assessment of their convergence towards strategic equilibria (physics)
  • Solving a certain set of partial differential equations representing a model of farsighted strategy updating in simple games (mathematics)
  • Design and implementation of a decentralized and confidential communication structure for a social app for consensus-finding (computer science)
  • Analytical identification of equilibria in games in which agents have prospect theory preferences and can only adjust their behaviour smoothly, including existence proofs using fixed point theorems (mathematics)
  • Identification of the topology of ties relevant for strategic decisions and cooperation: international diplomatic/trust/security/trade networks, public administration hierarchies, etc. (political science)

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