The Complexity of Cooperation: Agent-Based Models of Competition and Collaboration

The Complexity of Cooperation: Agent-Based Models of Competition and Collaboration

Robert Axelrod
Copyright Date: 1997
Pages: 248
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  • Book Info
    The Complexity of Cooperation: Agent-Based Models of Competition and Collaboration
    Book Description:

    Robert Axelrod is widely known for his groundbreaking work in game theory and complexity theory. He is a leader in applying computer modeling to social science problems. His bookThe Evolution of Cooperationhas been hailed as a seminal contribution and has been translated into eight languages since its initial publication. TheComplexity of Cooperationis a sequel to that landmark book. It collects seven essays, originally published in a broad range of journals, and adds an extensive new introduction to the collection, along with new prefaces to each essay and a useful new appendix of additional resources. Written in Axelrod's acclaimed, accessible style, this collection serves as an introductory text on complexity theory and computer modeling in the social sciences and as an overview of the current state of the art in the field.

    The articles move beyond the basic paradigm of the Prisoner's Dilemma to study a rich set of issues, including how to cope with errors in perception or implementation, how norms emerge, and how new political actors and regions of shared culture can develop. They use the shared methodology of agent-based modeling, a powerful technique that specifies the rules of interaction between individuals and uses computer simulation to discover emergent properties of the social system.The Complexity of Cooperationis essential reading for all social scientists who are interested in issues of cooperation and complexity

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-2230-0
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Tables and Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-9)

    The title of this book illustrates the dual purposes of the volume. One meaning of “The Complexity of Cooperation” refers to the addition of complexity to the most common framework for studying cooperation, namely the two-person iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma. Adding complexity to that framework allows the exploration of many interesting and important features of competition and collaboration that are beyond the reach of the Prisoner’s Dilemma paradigm.

    The second meaning of “The Complexity of Cooperation” refers to the use of concepts and techniques that have come to be called complexity theory. Complexity theory involves the study of many actors and...

  6. 1 Evolving New Strategies
    (pp. 10-29)

    This chapter began with a hammer and a nail. The nail was a problem I wanted to solve. The hammer was a tool I wanted to try out that looked well suited to driving my nail. The problematic nail was the question of whether the success of the TIT FOR TAT strategy in my computer tournaments depended in large part on the prior beliefs of the people who submitted strategies about what the other submissions would be like. In other words, would the tournament results be influenced by what people believed others would be doing, or would something like the...

  7. 2 Coping with Noise
    (pp. 30-39)

    The danger of people or nations misunderstanding each other’s actions has been a long-term interest of mine. Ever since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, I have been concerned that errors in perception or implementation could lead to serious conflict. As a child, I was deeply impressed with the fairy tale of a little boy who came across two dozing giants. He hit one of them on the head. This provoked a fight between the giants, and the little boy was able to use the distraction to get past them.

    When I set up the computer tournaments for the Prisoner’s...

  8. 3 Promoting Norms
    (pp. 40-68)

    My long-standing interest in norms was piqued by an anecdote that I included inThe Evolution of Cooperation(Axelrod 1984, 84–85). It was one of the many stories from the trench warfare of World War I in which the two sides showed restraint based upon reciprocity in what they called “the live and let live system.” But this particular episode went further than most. It displayed an emerging ethical component. Here is the story as related by a British officer recalling his experience while facing a Saxon unit of the German Army:

    I was having tea with A Company...

  9. 4 Choosing Sides
    (pp. 69-94)

    My interest in how political actors choose sides goes back at least to my days in graduate school in the 1960’s. For example, my Ph.D. dissertation on conflict of interest included a chapter on coalition formation in parliamentary democracies. The basic idea was that political parties of differing ideologies might have to work together to attain a governing majority, but they seek a set of partners that will cause as little political strain as possible. In other words, politicsminimizesthe strangeness of bedfellows. This idea was contrary to the prevailing view that coalition formation is based solely upon the...

  10. 5 Setting Standards
    (pp. 95-120)

    Two professors in the Business School at Michigan, Will Mitchell and Robert Thomas, heard me give a talk about my landscape theory with its application to wartime alignments (Chapter 4). They said that it reminded them of strategic alignments between companies. They asked if I would be interested in seeing if the theory worked in a commercial setting. So Scott Bennett and I joined Will Mitchell, Robert Thomas, and a graduate student of theirs, Erhard Bruderer, to see what would happen if we applied the same theory to a business case.

    We chose the case of nine computer companies that...

  11. 6 Building New Political Actors
    (pp. 121-144)

    The immediate origin of this chapter was a concern for how nation-states form. My interest was heightened by the demise of the Soviet Union (the focus of my former policy interests) and Yugoslavia (where I took my honeymoon in 1982). Just what accounts for how large numbers of people sometimes come to live together successfully, and sometimes fail to do so? I was particularly interested in the positive process whereby independent actors sometimes cooperate so successfully that they give up some of their independence in the interests of even more effective collaboration.

    Two successful examples have fascinated me at least...

  12. 7 Disseminating Culture
    (pp. 145-178)

    This chapter deals with the fundamental question of how we become who we are through our interactions with others. The immediate origin of this chapter is similar to the motivation of the previous chapter: a desire to understand how nations emerge. In the previous chapter, I focused on threats and wars as mechanisms for the development of new political actors from the competition and collaboration of more elementary political actors. This time I wanted to study the even more fundamental process of how communities evolve in the first place. It seemed to me that a key part of the process...

  13. A. Replication of Agent-Based Models
    (pp. 181-205)
  14. B. Resources for Agent-Based Modeling
    (pp. 206-222)
  15. Index
    (pp. 223-232)