News FocusCULTURAL EVOLUTION

A Winning Combination

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Science  09 Apr 2010:
Vol. 328, Issue 5975, pp. 166
DOI: 10.1126/science.328.5975.166

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Summary

The pair of graduate students who designed the winning computer program in a recent social-learning tournament (see main text) obsessively spent hundreds of hours perfecting their social-learning strategy. Although they lacked experience in social-learning research, one knew about figuring out the most efficient way to accomplish a task and estimating outcomes based on what known data is available, whereas the other understood evolutionary game theory. This mix of knowledge proved a winning combination, as their program easily beat about 100 others.