Nov 8, 2018

A Two-Player Iterated Survival Game

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
John Wakeley, Martin Nowak


We describe an iterated game between two players, in which the payoff is to survive a number of steps. Expected payoffs are probabilities of survival. A key feature of the game is that individuals have to survive on their own if their partner dies. We consider individuals with hardwired, unconditional behaviors or strategies. When both players are present, each step is a symmetric two-player game. The overall survival of the two individuals forms a Markov chain. As the number of iterations tends to infinity, all probabilities of survival decrease to zero. We obtain general, analytical results for n -step payoffs and use these to describe how the game changes as n increases. In order to predict changes in the frequency of a cooperative strategy over time, we embed the survival game in three different models of a large, well-mixed population. Two of these models are deterministic and one is stochastic. Offspring receive their parent's type without modification and fitnesses are determined by the game. Increasing the number of iterations changes the prospects for cooperation. All models become neutral in the limit ( n →∞). Further, if pairs of cooperative individuals survive together with high probability, specifically higher than...Continue Reading

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