Persistent homology and the shape of evolutionary games

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For nearly three decades, spatial games have produced a wealth of insights to the study of behavior and its relation to population structure. However, as different rules and factors are added or altered, the dynamics of spatial models often become increasingly complicated to interpret. To tackle this problem, we introduce persistent homology as a rigorous framework that can be used to both define and compute higher-order features of data in a manner which is invariant to parameter choices, robust to noise, and independent of human observation. Our work demonstrates its relevance for spatial games by showing how topological features of simulation data that persist over different spatial scales reflect the stability of strategies in 2D lattice games. To do so, we analyze the persistent homology of scenarios from two games: a Prisoner's Dilemma and a SIRS epidemic model. The experimental results show how the method accurately detects features that correspond to real aspects of the game dynamics. Unlike other tools that study dynamics of spatial systems, persistent homology can tell us something meaningful about population structure while remaining neutral about the underlying structure itself. Regardless of game complexity, since strategies either succeed or fail to conform to shapes of a certain topology there is much potential for the method to provide novel insights for a wide variety of spatially extended systems in biology, social science, and physics.
Antal sidor13
TidskriftJournal of Theoretical Biology
Tidigt onlinedatum2021 sep. 15
StatusPublished - 2021 dec. 21

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ)

  • Evolutionsbiologi
  • Algebra och logik
  • Datavetenskap (datalogi)


  • Persistent homology
  • Evolutionary games
  • Game theory
  • ESS
  • evolutionary stability
  • Topological data analysis
  • Evolutionary game theory


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