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Get your nerd on and win 10,000 Euros

Filed in Conferences ,Research News ,SJDM
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Kevin Laland and Luke Rendell have received funding from the European Commission to organize a major international multi-disciplinary tournament on the evolution of social learning, inspired by Robert Axelrod’s famous Prisoner’s Dilemma tournaments on the evolution of cooperation.

In recent years there has been a lot of interest (spanning several research fields, but especially economics, anthropology, and biology) in the problem of how best to acquire valuable information from others. Mathematical and computational solutions to this problem are starting to emerge, often using game-theoretical approaches. We feel the time is right for such a tournament, a sentiment shared by leading researchers in the field who are enthusiastic about this project. We have set up a committee of world-leading scientists as experts to help us design the tournament (Rob Boyd, Marc Feldman, Magnus Enquist, Kimmo Erikkson) and other leading authorities in this area of science, including Axelrod, have been advising us.

In the competition, entrants will submit behavioural strategies detailing how to respond to the problem of resource gain in a complex, variable environment in terms of combinations of individual and social learning. Where social learning is involved, entrants will be required to specify effective rules (e.g. conform, imitate the most successful individual, copy in proportion to each demonstrator’s payoff, copy when dissatisfied, etc). Entered strategies will be evaluated in two stages, with good performers in pair-wise contests going forward to an all-against-all melee. The author(s) of the strategy that performs best overall will be presented with a cash prize of 10,000 euros at the European Human Behaviour and Evolution Society meeting, in St. Andrews, U.K. in April 2009.

The competition is now running, and has a closing date of June 30 2008 and active website: http://www.intercult.su.se/cultaptation/tournament.php

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