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Game theory in biology - John McNamara

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Game theory in biology - concepts and frontiers
John McNamara
Paperback / softback
Oxford University Press
UK Publication Date

The principles of game theory apply to a wide range of topics in biology. This book presents the central concepts in evolutionary game theory and provides an authoritative and up-to-date account. The focus is on concepts that are important for biologists in their attempts to explain observations. This strong connection between concepts and applications is a recurrent theme throughout the book which incorporates recent and traditional ideas from animal psychology,neuroscience, and machine learning that provide a mechanistic basis for behaviours shown by players of a game.
The approaches taken to modelling games often rest on idealized and unrealistic assumptions whose limitations and consequences are not always appreciated. The authors provide a novelreassessment of the field, highlighting how to overcome limitations and identifying future directions.Game Theory in Biology is an advanced textbook suitable for graduate level students as well as professional researchers (both empiricists and theoreticians) in the fields of behavioural ecology and evolutionary biology. It will also be of relevance to a broader interdisciplinary audience including psychologists and neuroscientists.

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John McNamara is Emeritus Professor of Mathematics and Biology at the University of Bristol, UK. After competing his doctorate on black holes in 1976, he changed his research focus to animal behaviour and evolutionary biology. In these fields he has developed approaches to modelling behaviour, particularly approaches based on state variables. In studying animal behaviour his objective has been to provide theoretical explanations of known phenomena
and to motivate and steer the direction of new experiments. Areas in which he has contributed include foraging theory, life history theory, and game theory.

Olof Leimar is Emeritus Professor of Zoology at Stockholm University, Sweden. After studying theoretical physics in Stockholm, he switched to biology and completed his doctorate in 1988 with a thesis on game-theory analysis of animal fighting. In modelling animal behaviour, he introduces behavioural mechanisms, including mechanisms from learning psychology to achieve greater biological realism. In addition to fighting behaviour, he has applied this approach to the evolution of
warning colouration and mimicry. Other fields he has worked in include sex allocation, mutualism, life-history theory, developmental plasticity and phenotype determination. He develops mathematical models, but he has also been involved in experimental work in his areas of interest.

McNamara and Leimar succeed in producing a very accessible discussion of topics from which many nontheoretically inclined researchers would usually struggle to gain much insight... I cannot recommend this book more enthusiastically...a real gem, bursting with revolutionary insight.

Sasha R.X. Dall, Animal Behaviour

[The authors] stimulate the reader to imagine beyond the traditional ways of doing game theory in biology...The exercises, provided at the end of the main chapters, are excellent for practicing the logic presented.

Chaitanya Gokhale & Arne Traulsen, ISBE Newsletter

McNamara and Leimar have contributed to game theory in evolutionary biology for almost as long as the approach has existed. Their new book is for those who really want to know the nuts and bolts of the techniques involved, and is driven by examples of actual topics of interest to evolutionary and behavioural ecologists.

Hanna Kokko, Trends in Ecology and Evolution

Keyword Index
Biology - Mathematics.|Game theory.
Country of Publication
Number of Pages
288 .

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