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The Complexity of Cooperation: Agent-Based Models of Competition and Collaboration Paperback – September 7, 1997
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"Robert Axelrod's extraordinary book, The Evolution of Cooperation was globally acclaimed for the rich results of its simple model. The Complexity of Cooperation now gathers together the myriad fruits of more than a decade's work, carefully 'complexifying' his initial model. Like his ideas, his prose is clear and engaging. His delight as he unveils each surprising discovery is infectious. This book is not merely important; it's fun."--Robert D. Putnam, author of Making Democracy Work
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"Coping with Noise" deals with agents that make mistakes in their defections and cooperation.
"Promoting Norms" covers the fact that pure self-interest isn't a stable strategy and to promote stability requires norms - common behaviors among agents. The most interesting result from his work is NOT that agents should punish defectors - that is intuitive - but agents who DON'T punish defectors (of norms) must be "persuaded" to punish defectors to keep the norm stable. I guess we all need both the carrot and stick!
"Choosing Sides" covers landscape theory - the creation of population aggregates because similar agents tend to clump together.
There are other interesting sections and I like this book. I would normally give a five to this book; however, this is also a thin book. If there were more coverage of the material and a more in depth discussion of other peoples work, I would have given it a five.
That book focused on a simple interaction, the Iterated Prisoner's Dilemma, two agents doing business repeatedly, with memory of previous interaction. This volume widens the scope considerably, to take on topics like the spread of culture, rise and fall of societies, and more. It maintains the same simple, direct approach - and I can imagine many objections to this mechanistic, reductionist kind of analysis. I prefer to see it as thinking about the core issues within some problem, stripping away the underbrush, and seeing how the central ideas play out.
EoC was an exceptional book by any standard. This follows as a worthy successor - but not quite at its level. It addresses broader issues, so doesn't have EoC's sharp focus and compelling theme. And, however much I appreciate his experimental approach to complex issues, I still have to wonder how much simplification is too much. In a fixed, two-player interaction, the core issues lie pretty close to the surface. Many-vs-many interactions, with shifting sympathies and antipathies, might not have such a clear, identifiable core. So, although I find his treatment intriguing and insightful, I don't feel the blunt impact of the earlier book.
Still, it's a good one, and Axelrod isn't afraid to ruffle a few feathers in making his points - as difficulty in getting his research sometimes showed. Read EoC first. Then, if you want more, this one will wait for you.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
DR. AXLEROD IS A PIONEER IN EMERGING FIELD OF EVOLUTIONARY THINKING. HIS MODELS STUDY THE EFFICACY OF COOPERATION BOTH WITHIN AND WITHOUT COMPETITIVE ENVIRONMENTS, USING THE KISS... Read morePublished on February 5, 2009 by Harlan R. Green