Evolutionary Games Group

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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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  • May 4, 2014
  • 11:45 PM
  • 290 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
  • 277 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
  • 495 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
  • 365 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
  • 702 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
  • 319 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
  • 256 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
  • 294 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
  • 323 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
  • 583 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
  • 417 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
  • 387 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
  • 265 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 »

  • January 30, 2014
  • 08:30 AM
  • 303 views

Two heads are better than one. How about more?

by Piotr Migdał in Evolutionary Games Group

I like hiking a lot, especially with a few good friends of mine. But when the scenery is wild, or when the weather conditions are harsh, it is not uncommon to lose trail, or  at least – be in doubt whether we are going the right way. In these situations we discuss with each other, […]... Read more »

Migdał, P., Rączaszek-Leonardi, J., Denkiewicz, M., & Plewczynski, D. (2012) Information-Sharing and Aggregation Models for Interacting Minds. Journal of Mathematical Psychology, 56(6), 417-426. DOI: 10.1016/j.jmp.2013.01.002  

  • January 28, 2014
  • 11:45 PM
  • 680 views

Interface theory of perception can overcome the rationality fetish

by Artem Kaznatcheev in Evolutionary Games Group

I might be preaching to the choir, but I think the web is transformative for science. In particular, I think blogging is a great form or pre-pre-publication (and what I use this blog for), and Q&A sites like MathOverflow and the cstheory StackExchange are an awesome alternative architecture for scientific dialogue and knowledge sharing. This […]... Read more »

Mark, J.T., Marion, B.B., & Hoffman, D.D. (2010) Natural selection and veridical perceptions. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 266(4), 504-15. PMID: 20659478  

  • January 24, 2014
  • 09:00 AM
  • 324 views

Dogs are hosts to the oldest and most widely disseminated cancer

by Artem Kaznatcheev in Evolutionary Games Group

A little while ago, I got a new friend and roommate: Sugar. She is very docile, loves walks and belly-rubs, but isn’t a huge fan of other dogs. Her previous owner was an elderly woman that couldn’t take Sugar outside during most of the year — if you haven’t heard, Montreal is pretty difficult to […]... Read more »

Murchison, E., Wedge, D.C., Alexandrov, L.B., Fu, B., Martincorena, I., Ning, Z., Tubio, J.M.C., Werner, E.I., Allen, J., De Nardi, A.B.... (2014) Transmissable dog cancer genome reveals the origin and history of an ancient cell lineage. Science, 437-440. DOI: 10.1126/science.1247167  

  • January 19, 2014
  • 11:45 PM
  • 701 views

Kooky history of the quantum mind: reviving realism

by Artem Kaznatcheev in Evolutionary Games Group

One of my hobbies in undergrad was to spend time reading and editing Wikipedia. Towards the end of my studies, I started to specialize in going through Wikipedia’s fat-tail, removing articles to non-notable individuals, and trying to counter pseudoscientists, kooks, and cranks. Trying to understand why people subscribe to pseudoscience; how to demarcate real and […]... Read more »

  • January 13, 2014
  • 11:45 PM
  • 292 views

Cataloging a year of blogging: the algorithmic world

by Artem Kaznatcheev in Evolutionary Games Group

Today is the last day of the Julian year, and tomorrow is Old New Years, so it is a great time to finish our overview of the three themes of TheEGG articles in 2013. We already looked at established applications of evolutionary game theory, and extending from behavior to society and mind; now, we will […]... Read more »

  • January 10, 2014
  • 11:45 PM
  • 450 views

Cataloging a year of blogging: from behavior to society and mind

by Artem Kaznatcheev in Evolutionary Games Group

For psychologists, memory and learning are intimately intertwined. In fact, during the years of behaviorism in the early 20th century, the unobservable process of memory was completely replaced in the technical lexicon by learning (Miller, 2003). I want to take this post as an opportunity to remember the year that’s past, and the 83 articles […]... Read more »

Simpson, G.G. (1953) The Baldwin effect. Evolution, 7(2), 110-117. DOI: 10.2307/2405746  

  • January 7, 2014
  • 11:45 PM
  • 362 views

Cataloging a year of blogging: applications of evolutionary game theory

by Artem Kaznatcheev in Evolutionary Games Group

The 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 […]... Read more »

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

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