Cataloging a year of blogging: applications of evolutionary game theory

ChristmasCatalogThe new year is here, at least according to the calendar most of us use, but if you’re an orthodox Christian you were probably celebrating Christmas today. Although (or, because?) I’m Russian, I don’t celebrate Christmas, so I spent the day editing a paper, reflecting on 2013, and compiling a catalog post to summarize the year that’s past on this blog. The Theory, Evolution, and Games Group Blog saw 83 article this year (87 posts total, but 4 of them were just short announcements), with 15 of them from our distinguished team of guest bloggers (Forrest Barnum, Yunjun Yang, Max Hartshorn, Marcel Montrey, Eric Bolo, Keven Poulin, and Thomas Shultz). The topics ranged widely from standard evolutionary game theory, to the social nature of intelligence, and the computational complexity of science.

It took embarrassingly long to categorize.

Unfortunately, 83 articles is too many to overview in one post, so I have divided them into 9 categories falling within 3 themes: (1) established applications of evolutionary game theory, (2) expanding from behavior to society and mind, and (3) envisioning the algorithmic world. Today we look at applications.

This is fundamentally an egotistical exercise, and intended (like so much of the blog) for personal future reference. However, if you are new to the blog, and like what you’ve read recently, this could serve as a time-machine to the parts of 2013 that you missed.

I find it important to keep a balance between using tools in their traditional settings, and finding new connections or bringing tools to foreign settings. One of the biggest parts of my scientific toolbox — and the original theme for this blog — is evolutionary game theory (EGT). EGT is one of my favorite ways to hammer away at new problems, and I am happy to work on two established nails for EGT modeling: ethnocentrism and cancer. I’ll discuss the foreign settings in the coming two catalogs.

Ethnocentrism and the public good

We could say that this past year was the 20th anniversary of studying ethnocentrism with EGT methods (Holland, 1993), although I personally consider Riolo et al. (2001) as the founding paper for the current approach. Working with Thomas Shultz on modeling the evolution of ethnocentrism was my starting point in research in 2008 and I still continue to work on it to some extent. However, in this area my interest have widened to the evolution of cooperation and the constant trade-off between individual and group interests (and corresponding levels of modeling). I was lucky enough to get Eric Bolo interested in this topic, and he contributed several posts on group selection.

  1. Asking Amanda Palmer about cooperation in the public goods game
  2. Ecological public goods game
  3. Environmental austerity and the anarchist Prince of Mutual Aid
  4. Where did the love come from? Inclusive fitness vs. group selection by Eric Bolo
  5. Egalitarians’ dilemma and the cognitive cost of ethnocentrism
  6. Continuing our exploration of group selection by Eric Bolo
  7. Evolutionary games in set structured populations
  8. Did group selection play a role in the evolution of plasmid endosymbiosis? by Eric Bolo
  9. Ethnocentrism, religion, and austerity: a science poster for the humanities by Thomas Shultz
  10. How ethnocentrism evolves: a simulation of evolutionary dynamics by Max Hartshorn
  11. Evolve ethnocentrism in your spare time by Max Hartshorn

Although Eric and I have just started our exploration of the importance of group selection at the subcellular level, my work on ethnocentrism matured. In the middle of the year, Max Hartshorn, Tom, and I (2013) published one of our extended studies of ethnocentrism in the Hammond & Axelrod (2006) model, and Tom presented our work at the Cultural Evolution of Religion Research Consortium. Tom and I have a couple more papers that are almost ready to submit and I am excited to finish this chapter of research.

This category had a corpus of around 15.2 thousand words long and garnered around 5.2 thousand views.

Mathematical oncology

Cancer is a highly heterogeneous disease, and its progression is governed by Darwinian evolution and depends on clonal competition between different cell types (Nowell, 1976). It is natural to apply EGT to look at how the population structure shapes these selective pressure. This step was first take over 15 years ago (Tomilson, 1997; Tomlinson & Bodmer, 1997) and is now an active subfield of mathematical oncology (Basanta & Deutsch, 2008).

Late in 2012, I met David Basanta and Jacob Scott on twitter, we quickly started to collaborate through this blog, and the EGT and mathematical oncology communities on G+. They helped me discover an interest in mathematical medicine, and in July hosted me at the Moffitt Cancer Research Center. It was an extremely productive visit that resulted in a preprint (Kaznatcheev et al., 2013) that we just finalized for submission today.

  1. Game theoretic analysis of motility in cancer metastasis
  2. Warburg effect and evolutionary dynamics of metastasis
  3. Microenvironmental effects in prostate cancer dynamics
  4. Edge effects on the invasiveness of solid tumours
  5. Predicting the risk of relapse after stopping imatinib in chronic myeloid leukemia
  6. Simplifying models of stem-cell dynamics in chronic myeloid leukemia

In November, they were kind enough to invite me back to Tampta for the integrated mathematical oncology workshop. At this competition I met many wonderful modelers with whom I was lead by David to a second place finish and a new project in personalized medicine. We have a busy couple of weeks ahead of us, turning our initial work into a grant application.

This category had a corpus of around 8.4 thousand words and garnered around 2.8 thousand views.



Basanta, D. & Deutsch, A. (2008) A game theoretical perspective on the somatic evolution of cancer. In Selected topics on cancer modelling: genesis, evolution, immune competition, therapy (N. Bellomo, M. Chaplain and E. De Angelis Eds.). Birkhauser, Boston.

Hammond, R., & Axelrod, R. (2006). The Evolution of Ethnocentrism. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 50 (6), 926-936

Hartshorn, M., Kaznatcheev, A., & Shultz, T.R. (2013). The Evolutionary Dominance of Ethnocentric Cooperation. Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, 16 (3)

Holland, J. (1993). The effects of labels (tags) on social interactions. Santa Fe Institute Working Paper 93-10-064. Santa Fe, NM.

Riolo RL, Cohen MD, & Axelrod R (2001). Evolution of cooperation without reciprocity. Nature 414: 441–443.

Kaznatcheev, A., Scott, J.G., & Basanta, D. (2013). Edge effects in game theoretic dynamics of spatially structured tumours. arXiv: 1307.6914v1.

Nowell, P. C. (1976). The clonal evolution of tumor cell populations. Science, 194(4260): 23-28.

Tomlinson, I.P.M. (1997). Game-theory models of interactions between tumour cells. European Journal of Cancer, 33(9), 1495-1500.

Tomlinson, I.P.M, & Bodmer, W. F. (1997). Modelling the consequences of interactions between tumour cells. British Journal of Cancer, 75(2), 157.

About Artem Kaznatcheev
From the Department of Computer Science at Oxford University and Department of Translational Hematology & Oncology Research at Cleveland Clinic, I marvel at the world through algorithmic lenses. My mind is drawn to evolutionary dynamics, theoretical computer science, mathematical oncology, computational learning theory, and philosophy of science. Previously I was at the Department of Integrated Mathematical Oncology at Moffitt Cancer Center, and the School of Computer Science and Department of Psychology at McGill University. In a past life, I worried about quantum queries at the Institute for Quantum Computing and Department of Combinatorics & Optimization at University of Waterloo and as a visitor to the Centre for Quantum Technologies at National University of Singapore. Meander with me on Google+ and Twitter.

3 Responses to Cataloging a year of blogging: applications of evolutionary game theory

  1. Pingback: Cataloging a year of blogging: from behavior to society and mind | Theory, Evolution, and Games Group

  2. Pingback: Cataloging a year of blogging: the algorithmic world | Theory, Evolution, and Games Group

  3. Pingback: Cataloging a year of blogging: cancer and biology | Theory, Evolution, and Games Group

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