Friday, January 13, 2006

game theory is your friend

from wikepedia's article about "The Evolution of Co-operation"(1984):

The Evolution of Cooperation is a book and an article of the same title by political science professor Robert Axelrod. The nine-page article is currently one of the most cited articles ever to be published in the journal Science.

...The book included two chapters comparing Axelrod's findings to surprising findings in seemingly unrelated fields. In one of these, Axelrod examined spontaneous instances of cooperation during trench warfare in World War I. Troops of one side would shell the other side with mortars, but would often do so on a rigid schedule, and aim for a specific point in the other side's trenches, allowing the other side to minimize casualties. The other side would reciprocate in kind. The generals on both sides were satisfied that shelling was occurring and therefore the war was progressing satisfactorily, while the men in the trenches found a way to cooperatively protect each other.