Gambit is the leading piece of software for computing Nash equilibria of strategic games. A numpy of algorithms are implemented that take advantage of the higher dimensional geometry relating to the theory of games. In this post I will describe an approach for finding Nash equilibria (of 2 player games) that reduces to solving two simple Matrix equations. This can be implemented in Python using just numpy (and is already implemented in sagemath), I will also introduce (briefly) a library that does just that.

Consider a 2 player game with row player having \(m\) strategies and column player \(n\) strategies. This can be represented by two matrices \(A, B\in\mathbb{R}^{m\times n}\) where \(A_{ij}\) is the utility of the row player when row \(i\) is played against column \(j\) and \(B_{ij}\) is the corresponding column player utility.

When consider the general case of mixed strategies: a row/column strategy \(u\)/\(v\) is an element of \(\mathbb{R}^{m}\)/\(\mathbb{R}^{n}\) such that \(\sum u = \sum v = 1\).

An example of this is:

If the column player is playing \(v\) (a mixed strategy) then the utilities available to the row player are given by: \(Av\). For example, if the column player is playing \(v=(0.2, 0, 0.8)\) then the utilities of the row player reduce to:

From that utility vector we see that the row player should play the third row (it has the largest utility: 80.2). This is intuitive: the column player is picking a strategy that spends 80% of the time in the final column, the third row of \(A\) is the row with the highest value in that column.

It can be shown (I won’t go in to the details of this here) that at Nash equilibria, the strategies \(u, v\) are such that for the supports of \(u, v\) (the strategies that are played with non zero probability), that the available utilities to the opposite player (inside that support) must all be equal.

For example, if we consider \(v=(1/28, 27/28, 0)\), we have:

As long as the row player plays a strategy that only picks the 1st, 3rd or 4th row: then the column player has made them indifferent amongst their strategies.

It can also be shown that for what is called non degenerate games, an equilibria will always occur at points for which the support have equal size.

So this allows us to identify potential (mixed) strategies that could be Nash equilibria. To prove that they are Nash equilibria we just need to check that no player has an incentive to deviate outside of the support.

For a given strategy pair \(u, v\), with supports \(S(u), S(v)\) (supports are sets of indices), the indifference condition can be written in matrix form as:

Where \(M_{\text{row}}\) is a function of \(A, S(u)\) and \(S(v)\) and \(M_{\text{col}}\) is a function of \(B, S(u)\) and \(S(v)\) and has dimension: \((|S(u)| + n - |S(v)|) \times n\). Here is the form of \(M_{\text{row}})\):


\(b\) is just a vector of 0s followed by a 1.

  • The first condition ensures we have indifference between all utilities;
  • The second condition ensures we have the correct support (places a single one in the position corresponding to each strategy that must be played with probability 0);
  • The final condition ensures we have a probability vector (a row of 1s)

To obtain expressions for \(M_{\text{col}}\) and \(b_{\text{row}}\) simply consider \(B^{T}\) to be a row matrix of the corresponding game.

So for example, using the matrix \(B\) from before and assuming \(S(u)=\{3,4\}\) and \(S(v)=\{1, 2\}\). We have \(M_{\text{row}}\) given by:



gives: \(v=(0.03571429, 0.96428571, 0)\)

and solving:

gives: \(v=(0. , 0. , 0.75, 0.25)\)

This gives a simple enough approach to calculating Nash equilibria:

  1. Go through all potential supports (this corresponds to the powerset of the strategy sets);
  2. Find potential indifference strategies (as above);
  3. Check if they are Nash equilibrium (by seeing if there is any pure strategy that gives a better utility to either player. (I’m skipping this step in our running example).

Because we have been able to reduce this to a solving a simple linear equation, we can use numpy to do the hard work for us.

TLDR: Announcing Nashpy a library for the computation of equilibria in 2 player games

As I mentioned above: if you want to do serious Game Theoretic work, you should use Gambit but if you want a light weight python library that is pip installable and has just got numpy as a dependency then Nashpy could do the trick.

Install it directly from pypi with pip install nashpy. Here is how to solve the game we’ve been experimenting with:

>>> import nash
>>> A = [[160, 205, 44],
...      [175, 180, 45],
...      [201, 204, 50],
...      [120, 207, 49]]
>>> B = [[2, 2, 2],
...      [1, 0, 0],
...      [3, 4, 1],
...      [4, 1, 2]]
>>> g = nash.Game(A, B)
>>> equilibria = list(g.equilibria())
>>> equilibria
[(array([ 0.  ,  0.  ,  0.75,  0.25]), array([ 0.03571429,  0.96428571,  0.        ]))]

The library makes use of generators wherever possible and almost everything is done in numpy to try and be as efficient as possible.

That is pretty much all this library does but if you want more information take a look at the repository on github: