Home > Resource of the Month Archive Detail

<< Prev 11/8/2009 Next >>

What Would John Nash Do?

My son, B.J. (Portland, OR) forwarded me an interesting video link. It relates to a variation of the Prisoners' Dilemma.

Briefly, the Prisoners' Dilemma is a topic within game-theory. The classical situation involves two suspects arrested by the police. Because the evidence is insufficient for a conviction, the police separate the prisoners, then offer each of them the same options. If one prisoner testifies (i.e. betrays) against the other and the other remains silent (i.e. cooperates), the betrayer will go free while the silent one will serve a 10-year sentence. If both prisoners remain silent, they will serve only a six-month sentence. If both agree to testify against the other, they will serve a five-year sentence. Thus, without being in contact, each prisoner must choose to betray or remain silent. How should the prisoners act?

With this brief background, now watch the video Golden Balls, and see a version of the prisoners' dilemma in action...involving a case where one strategy is "weakly dominant."

Mathematician John Nash, the focus of A Beautiful Mind in book and movie format, studied the prisoners' dilemma. If interested, please explore his contributions in source 1 or source 2.

Note: As part of the resources for this next year, I am suggesting an on-line video(s) each month. Thus, if you have a favorite video (e.g. YouTube, TeacherTube, whatever....), please send the link to me (with your comments?) and I will try to include it and share it with others.