Learning Dynamics and the Co-Evolution of Competing Sexual Species

Authors Georgios Piliouras, Leonard J. Schulman

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Georgios Piliouras
Leonard J. Schulman

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Georgios Piliouras and Leonard J. Schulman. Learning Dynamics and the Co-Evolution of Competing Sexual Species. In 9th Innovations in Theoretical Computer Science Conference (ITCS 2018). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 94, pp. 59:1-59:3, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2018)


We analyze a stylized model of co-evolution between any two purely competing species (e.g., host and parasite), both sexually reproducing. Similarly to a recent model [Livnat et al. FOCS'14] the fitness of an individual depends on whether the truth assignments on n variables that reproduce through recombination satisfy a particular Boolean function. Whereas in the original model a satisfying assignment always confers a small evolutionary advantage, in our model the two species are in an evolutionary race with the parasite enjoying the advantage if the value of its Boolean function matches its host, and the host wishing to mismatch its parasite. Surprisingly, this model makes a simple and robust behavioral prediction. The typical system behavior is periodic. These cycles stay bounded away from the boundary and thus, learning-dynamics competition between sexual species can provide an explanation for genetic diversity. This explanation is due solely to the natural selection process. No mutations, environmental changes, etc., need be invoked. The game played at the gene level may have many Nash equilibria with widely diverse fitness levels. Nevertheless, sexual evolution leads to gene coordination that implements an optimal strategy, i.e., an optimal population mixture, at the species level. Namely, the play of the many "selfish genes" implements a time-averaged correlated equilibrium where the average fitness of each species is exactly equal to its value in the two species zero-sum competition. Our analysis combines tools from game theory, dynamical systems and Boolean functions to establish a novel class of conservative dynamical systems.
  • Dynamical Systems
  • Potential Game
  • Team Zero-Sum Game
  • Boolean Functions
  • Replicator Dynamics


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