Prisoner's Dilemma

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Doubleday, 1992 - Mathematics - 290 pages
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Watching players bluff in a poker game inspired John von Neumann--father of the modern computer and one of the sharpest minds of the century--to construct game theory, a mathematical study of conflict and deception. Game theory was embraced at the RAND Corporation, the think tank charged with formulating military strategy for the atomic age, and in 1950 two RAND scientists discovered the "prisoner's dilemma"--A disturbing game where two or more people may betray the common good for individual gain. The prisoner's dilemma quickly became a popular allegory of the nuclear arms race. Game theory developed into a controversial tool of public policy--alternately accused of justifying arms races and touted as the only hope of preventing them. Biographer Poundstone weaves together a biography of the brilliant and tragic von Neumann, a history of pivotal phases of the cold war, and an investigation of game theory's far-reaching influence.--From publisher description.

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User Review  - Kirkus

Here's one version: You and your partner are captured. If you rat on him ("defect'') and he is silent, you get off scot-free and he gets three years—and vice versa. If you both rat on each other, you ... Read full review

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User Review  - radicarian - LibraryThing

Great mixture of history and game theory, surprisingly exicting. Read full review


Prisoners Dilemma
The Best Brain in the World

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About the author (1992)

William Poundstone has been nominated twice for the Pulitzer Prize. Among his seven books are "The Recursive Universe," "Labyrinths of Reason," and "Big Secrets." He has also written extensively for network television and major magazines. He lives in Los Angeles.

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