Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


Perverse Cooperation

A new technique has won the 20th anniversary competition in iterated prisoner’s dilemma. The technique involves a sequence of moves designed to signal other players that they are competing with one of the great many other Southhampton university submissions. When they discover that, one entry will self-sacrifice such that the other can rack up a higher score.

The winning team was lead by Gopal Ramchurn, who has some interesting papers on his home page.

The tournament is hosted here, and the results are here.

(From Wired News, New Tack Wins Prisoner’s Dilemma.)

2 comments on "Perverse Cooperation"

  • NudeCybot says:

    Fascinating…game theory was always an important foundation in evolutionary and behavioural biology.
    What I hadn’t ever seen before it the TEAM factor in the prisoner’s dilemma competitions.
    Which is interesting since teamwork is a whole other emergent property that can be crucial to success.
    It has led to Eukaryotic and Multicellular life, the overwhelming success of social organisms, and to individual cyclists winning the Tour de France.

  • Max Dornseif says:

    I think Cambridge was first on that:
    Covert Channels for Collusion in Online Computer Games
    Steven J. Murdoch, Piotr Zieli?ski
    Collusion between partners in Contract Bridge is an oft-used example in cryptography papers and an interesting topic for the development of covert channels. In this paper, a different type of collusion is discussed, where the parties colluding are not part of one team, but instead are multiple independent players, acting together in order to achieve a result that none of them are capable of achieving by themselves. Potential advantages and defences against collusion are discussed. Techniques designed for low-probability-of-intercept spread spectrum radio and multilevel secure systems are also applied in developing covert channels suitable for use in games. An example is given where these techniques were successfully applied in practice, in order to win an online programming competition. Finally, suggestions for further work are explored, including exploiting similarities between competition design and the optimisation of voting systems.
    6th Information Hiding Workshop, Toronto, Ontario, Canada 23 ? 25 May 2004

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