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Foundations of Social Evolution Paperback – July 21, 1998

3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0691059341 ISBN-10: 0691059349

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Steven A. Frank is Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, Irvine. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Monographs in Behavior and Ecology
  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (July 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691059349
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691059341
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,942,670 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Herbert Gintis on May 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is a book for mathematically-inclined population and evolutionary biologists and other behavioral scientists. It is not for the layperson. The book is an extended exegesis on Price's equation---like variations and themes. The exposition is a bit rough, but some of the formulations are marvelous.
Price's equation is great for dealing with the interaction of structured populations, but there are other important approaches, including developing Markov processes and/or sets of differential equations to capture the dynamics of interacting social groups.
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Frank's book is a book of mathematical models of social evolution. Many of the chapters are about kin selection. Three of the twelve chapters are about sex allocation theory.

There are no examples of cultural evolution in the book. Cultural evolution is critical to understanding much social evolution. However, some of the models in the book are still applicable - even to cultural social evolution.

The math in the book is pretty heavy going, but the book revolves around the models and so readers will probably be expecting them. I looked for mistakes in the mathematics and found only one - on page 135:

Frank gives this equation - showing how to incorporate reproductive value in Hamilton's rule: r.B.vp − C.va > 0.

He then writes: "B and C have their usual interpretations as marginal changes in reproductive success". The problem here is that the usual interpretations of B and C *include* reproductive value. The B and C here are special interpretations where reproductive value has been factored out. This is confusing and mistaken. However the surrounding discussion shows that Frank does actually understand the whole issue.

Somehow, the book manages to remain fairly entertaining and readable despite all the mathematical models. I enjoyed reading it - though I suspect that many readers will find the contents dry and heavy going. On the positive side, these days, the book can be downloaded free of charge from the author's web site.
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 1, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book may well be everything its poblisher says it is, but it still will be of little use to readers unused to reading mathematical tracts. I was disappointed. With all the contention in this crucial field, somebody needs to go back to the beginning and carefully review the issues -- without bias and animus -- in a way that any attentive reader can understand.
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Foundations of Social Evolution
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