Chaos and the Explanatory Significance of Equilibrium: Strange Attractors in Evolutionary Game Dynamics

Brian Skyrms
University of California, Irvine
This paper discusses the explanatory significance of the equilibrium concept in the context of an example of extremely complicated dynamical behavior. In particular, numerical evidence is presented for the existence of chaotic dynamics on a "strange attractor" in the evolutionary game dynamics introduced by Taylor and Jonker [also known as the "replicator dynamics"]. This phenomenon is present already in four strategy evolutionary games where the dynamics takes place in a simplex in three dimensional space-the lowest number of dimensions in which such a strange attractor is possible. From a dynamical point of view, it is the attractor-rather than the equilibrium-that is of prime interest
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