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The Prisoners' Dilemma

Date: 12/8/95 at 6:48:23
From: Anonymous
Subject:  The Prisoners' Dilemma
     Hi !
I'm looking for a paper - or some material - about "the prisoners' 
[Two prisoners are about to go to jail. Both are give a choice:
Confess/deny => risk no/reduced/full sentence, dependent on the other]

I have searched forums for gametrees and decision-modelling, but can't 
find anything really great. :-)

Can "The Swat Team" help me?


Date: 12/8/95 at 8:35:50
From: Sarah Seastone
Subject: The Prisoners' Dilemma

Hi Tim -

There's a lot of good material on the 'Prisoners' Problem', also known 
as the 'Prisoners' Dilemma', and a game that uses it, on the Web at:   

The game is called Serendip and there's a link to a page that tells you
what's important about the problem:

"Prisoners' Dilemma is a game which has been and continues to be studied 
by people in a variety of disciplines, ranging from biology through 
sociology and public policy.  Among its interesting characteristics are 
that it is a "non-zero-sum" game: the best strategy for a given player 
is often one that increases the payoff to one's partner as well. It has 
also been shown that there is no single "best" strategy: how to maximize 
one's own payoff depends on the strategy adopted by one's partner.

"Serendip uses a particular strategy (called "tit for tat") which is
believed to be optimal under the widest possible set of partner 

"A superb introduction to Prisoners' Dilemma, including both original
studies of strategies and discussion of the game's broader significance 
is Robert Axelrod's _The Evolution of Cooperation_ (Basic Books, NY, 
1984). A more recent popular discussion is W. Poundstone, _Prisoners' 
Dilemma_, Anchor Books, Doubleday, NY, 1993).

"There is also a web reference at Prisoners' Dilemma, from Principia

"Recent, more technical papers related to Prisoners' Dilemma:

     Godfray, H.C.J. (1992) The evolution of forgiveness.
     Nature 355: 206-207

     Nowak, M.A. and Sigmund, K. (1992) Tit for tat in heterogeneous
     populations. Nature 355: 250-253."

-- Sarah Seastone
   Web Archivist
   The Math Forum
Associated Topics:
High School Logic
High School Puzzles

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