Mating Games and Lizards
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Ivars Peterson (MathLand)  
Is there a winning strategy for the game ScissorsPaperRock? It certainly doesn't make sense to show the same configuration each time. An alert opponent would quickly learn to anticipate your move, make the appropriate response, and always win. A similar danger lies in following any kind of pattern. Thus, unless you can find a flaw in your opponent's play, your best bet is to mix the three choices in a random manner. Of course, this isn't a completely satisfying result. If you stick to a strategy of random choices, your opponent can't profit. But then, you can't profit from your opponent's mistakes either. Curiously, the scissorspaperrock game has a counterpart in the mating rituals of a certain species of lizard native to California. Instead of just one mating strategy, these lizards have three, distinct types of behavior that constantly compete with one another in a perpetual cycle of dominance.  


Levels:  High School (912), College 
Languages:  English 
Resource Types:  Problems/Puzzles, Articles 
Math Topics:  Probability, Animal Biology 
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