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Dynamics of cooperation and competition

This research focusses on the mathematical and computational modelling of populations of learning individuals that try to collectively achieve some goal like cooperation, communication or coordination. In this context, Tom Lenaerts' team has examined the effects of network structure on the evolution and learning of cooperative behavior in social networks using evolutionary game dynamics (ED). 

One of the fundamental assumptions of early ED research is that individuals interact in a well-mixed population, meaning that every individual can interact with everyone else and that each has the same number of interactions. Through the analysis of technological, social and biological networks, it has clearly been shown that this basic assumption is wrong when one wants to understand the dynamics of real populations. We showed the relevance of network topology on evolutionary dynamics by studying 
the evolution of cooperation in social dilemmas on networks with different degrees of heterogeneity [1]. 
We also showed that when individuals can decide to change their interaction partners, then cooperation grows even faster [2]. This is an essential feature since social and technological networks are not static. Links change continuously, adapting in this way the topology to the spread of cooperation in these particular games. Extensive analysis of the different parameters that make up these problems has been performed and published [3-6]. 
Recently our interest has shifted to group-based dynamics (modeled through N-player games), individual learning (as compared to social learning) and harvesting problems (described as public goods games).
[1] F C Santos, J M Pacheco, and Tom Lenaerts. Evolutionary dynamics of social dilemmas in structured heterogeneous populations. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 103(9):3490–4, 2006.
[2] Francisco C Santos, Jorge M Pacheco, and Tom Lenaerts. Cooperation prevails when individuals adjust their social ties. PLoS Comput Biol, 2(10):e140, 2006.
[3] S. Van Segbroeck, F.S. Santos, A. Nowé, J.M. Pacheco, and T. Lenaerts. The evolution of prompt reactions to adverse ties. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 8:287, 2008
[4] S. Van Segbroeck, F.C. Santos, T. Lenaerts, and J.M. Pacheco. Reacting differently to adverse ties promotes cooperation in social networks. Phys Rev Lett, 102(5):058105, 2009.
[5] S. Van Segbroeck, S. de Jong, A. Nowé, F.C. Santos, and Tom Lenaerts. Learning to coordinate in complex networks. Adaptive Behavior, 18(5):416-427. 2010 
[6] S. Van Segbroeck, F.C. Santos, J.M. Pacheco, and T. Lenaerts. Coevolution of cooperation, response to adverse social ties and network structure. Games, 1(3):317-337. 2010

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