Evolutionary Games Group

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121 posts · 56,060 views

This is the blog of the evolutionary games group that launched as an extension of the earlier evolutionary game theory reading group at McGill University. It is organized by Artem Kaznatcheev and collaborates closely with Thomas R. Shultz‘s Laboratory for Natural and Simulated Cognition. We are primarily interested in the evolution of ethnocentrism, the interplay of evolution and cognition, and the effects of network topology on evolutionary simulations. Our reading concentrates on papers that apply nice analytic or computational models to questions in EGT. If you are interested in contributing to this project then feel free to email me!

Thomas Shultz
0 posts

Marcel Montrey
3 posts

Eric Bolo
4 posts

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  • October 25, 2014
  • 11:30 PM
  • 64 views

Stem cells, branching processes and stochasticity in cancer

by Artem Kaznatcheev in Evolutionary Games Group

When you were born, you probably had 270 bones in your body. Unless you’ve experienced some very drastic traumas, and assuming that you are fully grown, then you probably have 206 bones now. Much like the number and types of internal organs, we can call this question of science solved. Unfortunately, it isn’t always helpful […]... Read more »

  • October 9, 2014
  • 10:15 PM
  • 113 views

Ecology of cancer: mimicry, eco-engineers, morphostats, and nutrition

by Artem Kaznatcheev in Evolutionary Games Group

One of my favorite parts of mathematical modeling is the opportunities it provides to carefully explore metaphors and analogies between disciplines. The connection most carefully explored at the MBI Workshop on the Ecology and Evolution of Cancer was, as you can guess from the name, between ecology and oncology. Looking at cancer from the perspective […]... Read more »

  • October 5, 2014
  • 11:45 PM
  • 107 views

Models and metaphors we live by

by Artem Kaznatcheev in Evolutionary Games Group

George Lakoff and Mark Johnson’s Metaphors we live by is a classic, that has had a huge influence on parts of linguistics and cognitive science, and some influence — although less so, in my opinion — on philosophy. It is structured around the thought that “[m]etaphor is one of our most important tools for trying […]... Read more »

Narayanan, S. (1997) Embodiment in language understanding: Sensory-motor representations for metaphoric reasoning about event descriptions. PhD Thesis (University of California, Berkeley). info:/

  • September 18, 2014
  • 11:45 PM
  • 136 views

Experimental and comparative oncology: zebrafish, dogs, elephants

by Artem Kaznatcheev in Evolutionary Games Group

One of the exciting things about mathematical oncology is that thinking about cancer often forces me to leave my comfortable arm-chair and look at some actually data. No matter how much I advocate for the merits of heuristic modeling, when it comes to cancer, data-agnostic models take second stage to data-rich modeling. This close relationship […]... Read more »

Gallaher, J., & Anderson, A.R. (2013) Evolution of intratumoral phenotypic heterogeneity: the role of trait inheritance. Interface Focus, 3(4), 20130016. arXiv: 1305.0524v1

  • September 16, 2014
  • 10:15 PM
  • 128 views

Colon cancer, mathematical time travel, and questioning the sequential mutation model.

by Artem Kaznatcheev in Evolutionary Games Group

On Saturday, I arrived in Columbus, Ohio for the the MBI Workshop on the Ecology and Evolution of Cancer. Today, our second day started. The meeting is an exciting combination of biology-minded mathematicians and computer scientists, and math-friendly biologist and clinicians. As is typical of workshops, the speakers of the first day had an agenda […]... Read more »

Baker AM, Cereser B, Melton S, Fletcher AG, Rodriguez-Justo M, Tadrous PJ, Humphries A, Elia G, McDonald SA, Wright NA.... (2014) Quantification of crypt and stem cell evolution in the normal and neoplastic human colon. Cell reports, 8(4), 940-7. PMID: 25127143  

  • September 11, 2014
  • 11:00 PM
  • 189 views

Transcendental idealism and Post’s variant of the Church-Turing thesis

by Artem Kaznatcheev in Evolutionary Games Group

One of the exciting things in reading philosophy, its history in particular, is experiencing the tension between different schools of thought. This excitement turns to beauty if a clear synthesis emerges to reconcile the conflicting ideas. In the middle to late 18th century, as the Age of Enlightenment was giving way to the Romantic era, […]... Read more »

Post, E.L. (1936) Finite combinatory processes -- formulation 1. Journal of Symbolic Logic, 1(3), 103-105. info:/

  • September 1, 2014
  • 11:15 PM
  • 187 views

Falsifiability and Gandy’s variant of the Church-Turing thesis

by Artem Kaznatcheev in Evolutionary Games Group

In 1936, two years after Karl Popper published the first German version of The Logic of Scientific Discovery and introduced falsifiability; Alonzo Church, Alan Turing, and Emil Post each published independent papers on the Entscheidungsproblem and introducing the lambda calculus, Turing machines, and Post-Turing machines as mathematical models of computation. The years after saw many […]... Read more »

Gandy, R. (1980) Church's thesis and principles for mechanisms. Studies in Logic and the Foundations of Mathematics, 123-148. DOI: 10.1016/S0049-237X(08)71257-6  

  • May 4, 2014
  • 11:45 PM
  • 416 views

Useful delusions, interface theory of perception, and religion

by Artem Kaznatcheev in Evolutionary Games Group

As you can guess from the name, evolutionary game theory (EGT) traces its roots to economics and evolutionary biology. Both of the progenitor fields assume it impossible, or unreasonably difficult, to observe the internal representations, beliefs, and preferences of the agents they model, and thus adopt a largely behaviorist view. My colleagues and I, however, […]... Read more »

Kaznatcheev, A., Montrey, M., & Shultz, T.R. (2014) Evolving useful delusions: Subjectively rational selfishness leads to objectively irrational cooperation. Proceedings of the 36th annual conference of the cognitive science society. arXiv: 1405.0041v1

  • April 20, 2014
  • 11:45 PM
  • 388 views

Cross-validation in finance, psychology, and political science

by Artem Kaznatcheev in Evolutionary Games Group

A large chunk of machine learning (although not all of it) is concerned with predictive modeling, usually in the form of designing an algorithm that takes in some data set and returns an algorithm (or sometimes, a description of an algorithm) for making predictions based on future data. In terminology more friendly to the philosophy […]... Read more »

  • April 13, 2014
  • 11:45 PM
  • 598 views

Big data, prediction, and scientism in the social sciences

by Artem Kaznatcheev in Evolutionary Games Group

Much of my undergrad was spent studying physics, and although I still think that a physics background is great for a theorists in any field, there are some downsides. For example, I used to make jokes like: “soft isn’t the opposite of hard sciences, easy is.” Thankfully, over the years I have started to slowly […]... Read more »

Lazer, D., Kennedy, R., King, G., & Vespignani, A. (2014) Big data. The parable of Google Flu: traps in big data analysis. Science, 343(6176), 1203-1205. PMID: 24626916  

  • April 6, 2014
  • 11:45 PM
  • 472 views

Kleene’s variant of the Church-Turing thesis

by Artem Kaznatcheev in Evolutionary Games Group

In 1936, Alonzo Church, Alan Turing, and Emil Post each published independent papers on the Entscheidungsproblem and introducing the lambda calculus, Turing machines, and Post-Turing machines as mathematical models of computation. A myriad of other models followed, many of them taking seemingly unrelated approaches to the computable: algebraic, combinatorial, linguistic, logical, mechanistic, etc. Of course, […]... Read more »

  • March 25, 2014
  • 11:45 PM
  • 807 views

Algorithmic Darwinism

by Artem Kaznatcheev in Evolutionary Games Group

The workshop on computational theories of evolution started off on Monday, March 17th with Leslie Valiant — one of the organizers — introducing his model of evolvability (Valiant, 2009). This original name was meant to capture what type of complexity can be achieved through evolution. Unfortunately — especially at this workshop — evolvability already had […]... Read more »

Feldman, V. (2008) Evolvability from learning algorithms. Proceedings of the 40th annual ACM symposium on Theory of Computing, 619-628. DOI: 10.1145/1374376.1374465  

  • March 16, 2014
  • 09:00 PM
  • 426 views

Computational theories of evolution

by Artem Kaznatcheev in Evolutionary Games Group

If you look at your typical computer science department’s faculty list, you will notice the theorists are a minority. Sometimes they are further subdivided by being culled off into mathematics departments. As such, any institute that unites and strengthens theorists is a good development. That was my first reason for excitement two years ago when […]... Read more »

Angelino, E., & Kanade, V. (2014) Attribute-efficient evolvability of linear functions. Proceedings of the 5th conference on Innovations in Theoretical Computer Science, 287-300. DOI: 10.1145/2554797.2554824  

  • March 12, 2014
  • 11:45 PM
  • 342 views

From heuristics to abductions in mathematical oncology

by Artem Kaznatcheev in Evolutionary Games Group

As Philip Gerlee pointed out, mathematical oncologists has contributed two main focuses to cancer research. In following Nowell (1976), they’ve stressed the importance of viewing cancer progression as an evolutionary process, and — of less clear-cut origin — recognizing the heterogeneity of tumours. Hence, it would seem appropriate that mathematical oncologists might enjoy Feyerabend’s philosophy: […]... Read more »

  • March 5, 2014
  • 11:45 PM
  • 406 views

Misleading models in mathematical oncology

by Artem Kaznatcheev in Evolutionary Games Group

I have an awkward relationship with mathematical oncology, mostly because oncology has an awkward relationship with math. Although I was vaguely familiar that evolutionary game theory (EGT) could be used in cancer research, mostly through Axelrod et al. (2006), I never planned to work on cancer. I wasn’t eager to enter the field because I […]... Read more »

Michor, F., Hughes, T., Iwasa, Y., Branford, S., Shah, N., Sawyers, C., & Nowak, M.A. (2005) Dynamics of chronic myeloid leukaemia. Nature, 435(7046), 1267-1270. DOI: 10.1038/nature03669  

  • February 27, 2014
  • 10:00 PM
  • 402 views

Cooperation, enzymes, and the origin of life

by Eric Bolo in Evolutionary Games Group

Enzymes play an essential role in life. Without them, the translation of genetic material into proteins — the building blocks of all phenotypic traits — would be impossible. That fact, however, poses a problem for anyone trying to understand how life appeared in the hot, chaotic, bustling molecular “soup” from which it sparked into existence […]... Read more »

Bianconi, G., Zhao, K., Chen, I.A., & Nowak, M.A. (2013) Selection for replicases in protocells. PLoS Computational Biology, 9(5). PMID: 23671413  

  • February 26, 2014
  • 11:45 PM
  • 689 views

Approximating spatial structure with the Ohtsuki-Nowak transform

by Artem Kaznatcheev in Evolutionary Games Group

Can we describe reality? As a general philosophical question, I could spend all day discussing it and never arrive at a reasonable answer. However, if we restrict to the sort of models used in theoretical biology, especially to the heuristic models that dominate the field, then I think it is relatively reasonable to conclude that […]... Read more »

Ohtsuki, H., & Nowak, M.A. (2006) The replicator equation on graphs. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 243(1), 86-97. PMID: 16860343  

  • February 14, 2014
  • 11:45 PM
  • 519 views

Evolution is a special kind of (machine) learning

by Artem Kaznatcheev in Evolutionary Games Group

Theoretical computer science has a long history of peering through the algorithmic lens at the brain, mind, and learning. In fact, I would argue that the field was born from the epistemological questions of what can our minds learn of mathematical truth through formal proofs. The perspective became more scientific with McCullock & Pitts’ (1943) […]... Read more »

Valiant, L.G. (2009) Evolvability. Journal of the ACM, 56(1), 3. DOI: 10.1145/1462153.1462156  

  • February 7, 2014
  • 11:45 PM
  • 518 views

Misleading models: “How learning can guide evolution”

by Artem Kaznatcheev in Evolutionary Games Group

I often see examples of mathematicians, physicists, or computer scientists transitioning into other scientific disciplines and going on to great success. However, the converse is rare, and the only two examples I know is Edward Witten’s transition from an undergad in history and linguistics to a ground-breaking career in theoretical physicist, and Geoffrey Hinton‘s transition […]... Read more »

Hinton, G. E., & Nowlan, S. J. (1987) How learning can guide evolution. Complex Systems, 1(3), 495-502. info:/

  • February 4, 2014
  • 11:45 PM
  • 350 views

Phenotypic plasticity, learning, and evolution

by Artem Kaznatcheev in Evolutionary Games Group

Learning and evolution are eerily similar, yet different. This tension fuels my interest in understanding how they interact. In the context of social learning, we can think of learning and evolution as different dynamics. For individual learning, however, it is harder to find a difference. On the one hand, this has led learning experts like […]... Read more »

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