in Schelling's Game Theory

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780199857203
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199932597 | DOI:

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This chapter is about the prisoner's dilemma as a repeated encounter. The best strategy is defection, or non-cooperation, if a single encounter is anticipated. In the event of repeated, or iterated play, evidence indicates that cooperation can evolve. The introduction to this chapter provides a story published following the death of the last British survivor of the Christmas truce from World War I in 1915. Much of the chapter is based on Robert Axelrod's contests that inspired his classic book, The Evolution of Cooperation. Axelrod's first tournament involved fifteen contestants from different disciplines competing in a round-robin tournament with 200 games, competing against each opponent submitting strategies for playing the prisoner's dilemma. There was a great variety in how the games went but the winner was the one with the simplest plan, which was based on the simple strategy in tit-for-tat. This strategy worked initially then the competitor was to do whatever his opponent did on their previous move. Axelrod ran a much larger second tournament, with sixty-two entrants from six countries. The strategy of tit-for-tat again won, defeating experts from many fields. Subtopics follow the main part of the chapter, including a look at how cooperation takes hold and difficulties; robustness; noise; and cooperation examples. A supplement comes from Axelrod's book that is research on prisoner's dilemma leading to cooperation emerging in many isolated areas along the trenches in the early stages of World War One.

Keywords: evolution of cooperation; tit-for-tat; prisoner's dilemma; cooperation; Robert Axelrod; tournament

Chapter.  4746 words. 

Subjects: Economics

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