ESSLLI 2009 Foundational Course

[Overview | Reading Material | Background | Schedule (Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5) | Notes/Comments]

Lecturer: Eric Pacuit ( website)
Meeting Times: Week 2, 9:15 - 10:45


Thinking about rational agents interacting over time is at the center of many research communities represented at ESSLLI. This course will introduce the main research themes and conceptual issues surrounding rational agency. The primary objective is to understand the complex phenomena that arise when rational agents interact and how to incorporate these phenomena into formal models. Studying rational agents involves many different aspects including (but not limited to) action, knowledge, belief, desires, and revision. This course covers all these ingredients toward the goal of understanding how these things work together.

Specific topics that will be introduced (we will focus on topics not represented in other courses at ESSLLI) during the course include 1. logics of knowledge and belief, 2. information dynamics and belief revision, 3. logics of preference and preference change, 4. logics of motivational mental attitudes, and 5. logics of individual and collective action and 6. group phenomena and issues of social choice. In fact, not all parts of this story have been developed within one single discipline. The course will also bring together several research programs: from philosophy, computer science, logic, and game theory, and try to see their various contributions in one coherent manner.

Reading Material

  • Extended outline of the course including an appendix on modal logic (pdf, June 15 version).


Below is some pointers to resources that are relevant for this course including websites of other courses/seminars, textbooks, papers, and web portals.


Below is a schedule for the course (which is subject to change). There are also brief synopses of each of the lectures and slides (available after each lecture).

Date Topic Slides
Day 1
July 27, 2009
Introduction, Motivation and Background
(brief synopsis)
Lecture 1
Day 2
July 28, 2009
Basic Ingredients for a Logic of Rational Agency
(brief synopsis)
Lecture 2
Day 3
July 29, 2009
Logics of Rational Agency and Social Interaction, Part I
(brief synopsis)
Lecture 3
Day 4
July 30, 2009
Logics of Rational Agency and Social Interaction, Part II
(brief synopsis)
Lecture 4
Day 5
July 31, 2009
Conclusions and General Issues
(brief synopsis)
Lecture 5

Day 1:

This course will focus primarily on the following question: how to merge logical systems addressing different aspects of (rational) agency. The first half of the lecture discussed a number of general issues surrounding logics of rational agency. We also looked in some detail about a fair division algorithm called Adjusted Winner (eg., discussed the fact that Adjusted Winner is proportional, envy-free and Pareto efficient. Also we discussed an example demonstrating that agents can manipulate the outcome by misrepresenting their preferences (although being truthful is the only way to guarantee at least 50%).

The second half of the course was a very quick introduction to modal logic. We introduced the basic semantics and discussed what the basic modal language can and cannot express.

Back to the schedule

Day 2:

Todays lecture introduced a number of (modal) logics for reasoning about different aspects of agency. We spent most of the time discussing the main intuitions underlying the specific formalisms. We discussed epistemic logic, propositional dynamic logic (as a logic of action), and stit logics and logics of agency.

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Day 3:

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Day 4:

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Day 5:

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Additional Information

Relevant Conferences: