Tutorial: Cooperation

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Welcome to the Evolution of Cooperation Tutorial.

Note: in order to run the dynamic simulations referred to in this tutorial, go here, to the Java Applet version. You will be directed to download the latest version of the Java plug-in.

"Evolution of Cooperation" by Robert Axelrod (Basic Books, 1984) details a mathematical theory aimed to explain how cooperation arises in communities of selfish yet rational agents. In this tutorial, we present a series of agent-based simulations that help explain the theory's tenets and explore some of its results.


  1. Introduction
    1. Modeling Social Interactions
    2. Prisoner's Dilemma
    3. Iterated Prisoner's Dilemma
  2. Agent Strategies and the Shadow of the Future
    1. Agent Strategies
    2. Tit-for-Tat vs. All-Defection
    3. Choice of a Strategy Function
    4. Optimal Strategy Depends on the Shadow of the Future
  3. Agent Learning and Strategy Invasion
    1. Learning from Others
    2. Strategy Invasion
    3. Introducing Geographic Constraints
    4. Adding Territorial Structure to the Simulation
    5. Effect of the Territorial Structure
  4. Invasion by a Tit-for-Tat Minority
    1. Agents as Countries on a Toroidal Planet
    2. Switching Sides: Tit-for-Tat Minority in a World of Meanies
    3. Four Tit-for-Tats amongst All-D's
    4. Effect of the Territorial Structure
  5. Closing Remarks
  6. Introducing a Variety of Strategies
    1. More Strategies to Try Out
    2. Alter Agent Strategies and Run the Society
  7. Appendix
    1. The Numeric Payoffs of Prisoner's Dilemma

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