Nautilus

In Quantum Games, There’s No Way to Play the Odds

Reprinted with permission from Quanta Magazine’s Abstractions blog.

These games combine quantum entanglement, infinity and impossible-to-calculate winning probabilities. But if researchers can crack them, they’ll reveal deep mathematical secrets.Photograph by Everett Collection / Shutterstock

In the 1950s, four mathematically minded U.S. Army soldiers used primitive electronic calculators to work out the optimal strategy for playing blackjack. Their results, later published in the Journal of the American Statistical Association, detailed the best decision a player could make for every situation encountered in the game.

Yet that strategy—which would evolve into what gamblers call “the book”—did not guarantee a player would win. Blackjack, along with solitaire, checkers, or any number of other games, has a ceiling on the percentage of games in which players can expect to triumph, even if they play the absolute best that the game can be played.

But for a particularly

Citiți o mostră, înregistrați-vă pentru a citi în continuare.

Mai multe de la Nautilus

Nautilus14 min cititePhysics
The Charmed Life of Frank Wilczek: A novelist gets a physicist to explain his scientific breakthroughs.
Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek’s new book, Fundamentals: Ten Keys to Reality, is both a way of thinking about the abundance that characterizes our exterior and interior worlds, and a kind of alternative to traditional religion, a way of being “born aga
Nautilus12 min cititeBody, Mind, & Spirit
Life Beyond Human Has to Play by the Rules: A zoologist explains why complex life anywhere depends on natural selection.
There are many ways to think about alien, extraterrestrial life forms. Science-fiction writers do it all the time. Scientists, more interested in nonfiction, think about how to receive signals that real aliens might send, as well as what sort of sign
Nautilus6 min cititePsychology
Do We Have Free Will? Maybe It Doesn't Matter
Belief is a special kind of human power. Agustin Fuentes, an anthropologist at the University of Notre Dame, eloquently claims as much in his recent book Why We Believe: Evolution and the Human Way of Being. It’s the “most prominent, promising, and d