Launching public projects successfully – Simulation of Threshold Games in C++

Short Description

A core question in economics deals with the public goods of our society: roads and public infrastructure, police, fire brigade and health care system. The challenge is how to ensure that everyone is happy to contribute to the common good (i.e. pay their taxes or contributions) and not just benefit. If you use the classic public goods game as a model for these systems, you unfortunately get a clear answer: It does not work, there will always be a small proportion of fraudsters or free riders. In this project in winter 2022/23 we investigate the question what happens in case that a minimum number of cooperators is needed in order to launch a public project in the first place. The project investigates so-called threshold public goods games [1] using simulations in C++.

About the Project

The idea of this international project was held by Arend Hintze from Dalarna University in Sweden and Jochen Staudacher from Kempten for quite some time. After two unsuccessful attempts to find a sufficient number of students interested in the idea in winter 2021/22 and summer 2022, the two researchers were very happy to supervise a team of four very keen M.Sc. students in winter 2022/23.

The start of a public project requires the support of a sufficient number of members of a group. Members (actors) are of different importance to the project and have different cost-benefit relationships. There are players who benefit and players who suffer from the launch of the project. Examples are the Kyoto Protocol voting with different weights (shareholders, the United Nations with the veto power of Security Council members) and international scientific or military expeditions.

We investigated Threshold Public Goods Games [1] using evolutionary approaches [2,3] and, among other things, built on the results of student project teams from the summer semester 2019 and later semesters. Particularly noteworthy are the topical paper [4], which presents a first model for an unconditional basic income using evolutionary game theory and agent-based simulation, as well as the software APGG for “Asymmetric Public Goods Games”, which was developed in an international student project in the 2019 summer semester by Mr. Falk Hübner, Mr. Mirko Rosenthal and Mr. David Richter. As part of the project, further software for simulating threshold public goods games was developed. Students and supervisors think remarkable results were achieved in this project in winter 2022/23 and are still keeping in contact after the official end of the project hoping to publish the findings in a peer-reviewed outlet. We shall report on these efforts in due course.


Kempten students taking part in the project: Steven Brosch, Cindy Buhl, Katharina Raab, Christoph Wald

Supervisors: Jochen Staudacher (Kempten), Arend Hintze (Dalarna University, Sweden)

Faculty: Computer Science, M.Sc. in Computer Science (Informatik)

Date of realisation: WS 2022/23


[1] M. Archetti, I. Scheuring, Coexistence of cooperation and defection in public goods games. Evolution: International Journal of Organic Evolution, 65(4), 1140-1148, 2011.

[2] C. Adami, J. Schossau, A. Hintze, Evolutionary Game Theory Using Agent-Based Methods, Physics of Life Reviews 19, 1-26, 2016.

[3] A. Hintze, C. Adami, Punishment in public goods games leads to meta-stable phase transitions and hysteresis, Phys. Biol. 12 046005, 2015.

[4] A. Hintze, J. Staudacher, K. Gelhar, A. Pothmann, J. Rasch, D. Wildegger, Inclusive groups can avoid the tragedy of the commons, Nature Scientific reports, 10(1), 1-8, 2020.