Mathematical Digest


Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Schroedinger's Games," by Graham P. Collins. Scientific American,January 2000, pages 18-20.

The classic "prisoner's dilemma," in which two criminals must choose whether tostay quiet or rat each other out, has no easy way out -- the best strategy isto talk and hope that the other does not. However, there can be a way out ifthe situation is ruled by quantum mechanics. By creating a superposition ofdefecting and not defecting, a theoretical device will allow each prisoner toreap the benefit of keeping quiet. The importance of these results is not toavoid the law; instead they provide a prototype error-correction system ininformation processing.

--- Benjamin Stein