Life is often a matter of gambles, pay-offs, and trade-offs, just like a game. This book takes readers on a tour through the games and computer simulations that are actually helping to advance knowledge in such fields as ecology, evolution, and animal behavior. Although the book deals with questions of vital importance, like sex and survival, it does so in the lively, entertaining spirit of game-playing. It starts with artificial life and self-replicating automata, a topic ideally suited for a computer-games approach. The book goes on to study pursuit games between predators and prey, and chaotic motion and its role in ecology. Games of chance and statistical paradoxes illuminate the randomness in molecular evolution, while some bizarre double games played by chromosomes help explain the laws of population genetics. Other topics include courtship, ownership, partnership, and brinksmanship--illustrated through the game of poker and computer tournaments. No other book explains so well why scientific observations and insights can be structured as the rules of a survival game, and what happens when they are assembled on a computer or in the mind and allowed to run their course. General readers as well as professionals and students in ecological, evolutionary, and behavioral studies will find this a fascinating and informative work.
'Karl Sigmund's Games of Life is a beautifully written and, considering its relative brevity, amazingly comprehensive survey of past and current thinking in "mathematical" evolution. Just as games (at least, the human variety) are supposed to be fun, so too is Games of Life - the witty section headings, the relaxed style and the clarity of the explanations make the book as enjoyable to read as a Marx Brothers film (to which there is a
reference in the book) is to watch.'
Times Higher Education Supplement
'I would place Sigmund's book somehwere between good and excellent ... The informal style of the book is brilliant ... the book is a success.'
A. Kondrashov, Cornell University, TREE, vol. 9, no. 3, 1994
'an excellent introduction to what theoretical bioliogists get up to in trying to understand evolutionary and ecological ideas'
Andrew Pomiankowski, University College, London, Nature, Vol. 370, 1994
Introduction: Mendel's legacy
1: Self-replicating automata and artificial life
2: Population ecology and chaos
3: Random drift and chain reactions
4: Population genetics
5: Evolution and sex
6: Evolutionary game theory
7: Reciprocity and the evolution of cooperation