
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 impossibletocalculate winning probabilities. But if researchers can crack them, they’ll reveal deep mathematical secrets.Photograph by Everett Collection / ShutterstockIn 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 strange variant of games, it’s impossible to compute this maximumwin probability. Instead, mathematicians and computer scientists are trying to determine whether it’s possible even to approximate maximumwin probabilities for these games. And whether that possibility exists hinges on the compatibility of two very different ways of thinking about physics. These “nonlocal” games were conceived in the 1960s by the…Read More…
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