Who are you?
My name is William Spaniel. I have been assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Political Science since 2016. I mostly study political violence using game theory. Prior to that, I was a Stanton Nuclear Security Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation. I received a PhD from the University of Rochester in 2015 and a BA from the University of California, San Diego in 2009.

If you want to see my CV, please visit my personal website.

How can I contact you?
Please email me at [email protected].

Why did you start this website?
I started making game theory YouTube videos in September 2009 for three reasons. First, I was getting tired of people asking me what I do without being able to provide a quick answer; a simple link to a YouTube video of the prisoner’s dilemma solved that. Second, if you searched “game theory” on YouTube at the time, what came up was by and large not game theory. And third, the actual game theory that showed up consisted of lectures that ran an hour or longer, which made them inaccessible to people with passing interest and nearly impossible to use as a study aid. In contrast, the vast majority of my videos are less than 10 minutes long.

Fast forward eight months. Freakonomics posted a blurb about me on the New York Times’ website. This drew a lot of viewers to my videos. Many commented that they really enjoyed the lectures but found them difficult to navigate. I created this website to solve that problem.

I am thinking about taking a game theory class. How much math should I take before it?
That depends heavily on the course you are taking. For some undergraduate courses, simple algebra is enough; for other undergraduate courses, you would need a full sequence of calculus for the derivatives, integrals, and series that await you.

If you are thinking about doing game theory at the graduate level, you might want to look into real analysis. Linear algebra and topology are useful too, though they may prove to be far more trouble than they are worth.

I am lost on a homework problem. Will you help me?
Maybe. If you have a short conceptual question, I might be able to link you to the video with the answer. Alternatively, you could pick up a copy of my textbook, which shows you how to solve games step-by-step.

If you need more help, I can try to locate a qualified tutor for you. See the tutoring page for more on that.

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