Evolutionary game theory is a successful mathematical framework geared towards understanding the selective pressures that affect the evolution of the strategies of agents engaged in interactions with potential conflicts. While a mathematical treatment of the costs and benefits of decisions can predict the optimal strategy in simple settings, more realistic situations (finite populations, non-vanishing mutations rates, communication between agents, and spatial interactions) require agent-based methods where each agent is modeled as an individual, carries its own genes that determine its decisions, and where the evolutionary outcome can only be ascertained by evolving the population of agents forward in time. Here we discuss the use of agent-based methods in evolutionary game theory and contrast standard results to those obtainable by a mathematical treatment. We conclude that agent-based methods can predict evolutionary outcomes where purely mathematical treatments cannot tread, but that mathematics is crucial to validate the computational simulations.
Evolutionary game theory using agent-based methods
Christoph Adami, Jory Schossau, Arend Hintze