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The rock–paper–scissors game

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Rock–Paper–Scissors (RPS), a game of cyclic dominance, is not merely a popular children’s game but also a basic model system for studying decision-making in non-cooperative strategic interactions. Aimed at students of physics with no background in game theory, this paper introduces the concepts of Nash equilibrium and evolutionarily stable strategy, and reviews some recent theoretical and empirical efforts on the non-equilibrium properties of the iterated RPS, including collective cycling, conditional response patterns and microscopic mechanisms that facilitate cooperation. We also introduce several dynamical processes to illustrate the applications of RPS as a simplified model of species competition in ecological systems and price cycling in economic markets.
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Keywords: conditional response; cyclic dominance; decision making; non-cooperative game; non-equilibrium; social cycling

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: State Key Laboratory of Theoretical Physics, Institute of Theoretical Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.

Publication date: April 2, 2016

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