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Thursday, December 28, 2006

OA strategy and quantum game theory

Matthias Hanauske, Steffen Bernius, and Berndt Dugall, Quantum Game Theory and Open Access Publishing, a preprint, self-archived in arXiv December 24, 2006.  (Thanks to Stevan Harnad.)

Abstract: The digital revolution of the information age and in particular the sweeping changes of scientific communication brought about by computing and novel communication technology, potentiate global, high grade scientific information for free. The arXiv for example is the leading scientific communication platform, mainly for mathematics and physics, where everyone in the world has free access on. While in some scientific disciplines the open access way is successfully realized, other disciplines (e.g. humanities and social sciences) dwell on the traditional path, even though many scientists belonging to these communities approve the open access principle. In this paper we try to explain these different publication patterns by using a game theoretical approach. Based on the assumption, that the main goal of scientists is the maximization of their reputation, we model different possible game settings, namely a zero sum game, the prisoners' dilemma case and a version of the stag hunt game, that show the dilemma of scientists belonging to ''non-open access communities''.

From an individual perspective, they have no incentive to deviate from the Nash Equilibrium of traditional publishing. By extending the model using the quantum game theory approach it can be shown, that if the strength of entanglement exceeds a certain value, the scientists will overcome the dilemma and terminate to publish only traditionally in all three settings.

From the conclusion:

This article focuses the question why the open access model is only successfully adopted by a few scientific disciplines. We have constructed a game theoretical model, where the scientistsí incentives where described with a reputation dependent payoff matrix. Three game settings where addressed, namely a zero sum game, the prisonersí dilemma and a stag hunt version of the open access game. By calculating the outcome of the games within a classical game theoretical framework, we have shown that in all cases the scientists face a dilemma situation: Considering a potential loss in reputation, incentives to perform open access are missing. These findings change, if quantum strategies are allowed. If the entanglement overruns a certain barrier, quantum strategies become superior to the former Nash equilib- rium strategies. In none of the three different game settings the choice of traditional publishing remains to be a rational strategy for the players, if their strategical choices are maximally entangled. The results of this article therefore indicate one possible explanation of the differing publishing methods of scientific communities. In quantum game theory parlance one would say, that scientific disciplines, like mathematics and physics, which had been successful in realizing the open access model, consist of scientists, whose strategical operations are strongly entangled. In contrast, if a scientific community is still imprisoned in the Nash equilibrium of non-open access, there would be a lack of entanglement between the strategical choices of the related scientists of the community.

Comment. I'm having trouble translating this technical result into street-level recommendations for OA strategy.  Quantum game theory allows the "entanglement" of different player strategies, just as quantum theory allows the entanglement of different particle wave functions.  But in street terms, what does it mean for two scholars to have entangled strategies and what variables affect the degree of entanglement?  I can guess, but I'd rather know what the authors had in mind.  If you can help, please drop me a line or post a note to our discussion forum.