Valiant (2009) proposed to treat Darwinian evolution as a special kind of computational learning from statistical queries. The statistical queries represent a genotype’s fitness over a distribution of challenges. And this distribution of challenges along with the best response to them specify a given abiotic environment or static fitness landscape. Valiant’s model distinguished families of environments that are “adaptable-to” from those that are not. But this model of evolution omits the vital ecological interactions between different evolving agents – it neglects the rich biotic environment that is central to the struggle for existence.
In this article, I extend algorithmic Darwinism to include the ecological dynamics of frequency-dependent selection as a population-dependent bias to the distribution of challenges that specify an environment. This extended algorithmic Darwinism replaces simple invasion of wild-type by a mutant-type of higher scalar fitness with an evolutionary game between wild-type and mutant-type based on their frequency-dependent fitness function. To analyze this model, I develop a game landscape view of evolution, as a generalization of the classic fitness landscape approach that is popular in biology.
I show that this model of eco-evo dynamics on game landscapes can provide an exponential speed-up over the purely evolutionary dynamics of the strict algorithmic Darwinism proposed by Valiant. In particular, I prove that the noisy-Parity environment – which is known to be not adaptable-to under strict algorithmic Darwinism (and conjectured to be not PAC-learnable) – is adaptable-to by eco-evo dynamics. Thus, the ecology of frequency-dependent selection does not just increase the tempo of evolution, but fundamentally transforms its mode.
The eco-evo dynamic for adapting to the noisy-Parity environment proceeds by two stages: (1) a quick stage of point-mutations that moves the population to one of exponentially many local fitness peaks; followed by (2) a slower stage where each ‘step’ follows a double-mutation by a point-mutation. This second stage allows the population to hop between local fitness peaks to reach the unique global fitness peak in polynomial time. The evolutionary game dynamics of finite populations are essential for finding a short adaptive path to the global fitness peak during the second stage of the adaptation process. This highlights the rich interface between computational learning theory, evolutionary games, and long-term evolution.
Living systems exhibit complex yet organized behavior on multiple spatiotemporal scales. To investigate the nature of multiscale coordination in living systems, one needs a meaningful and systematic way to quantify the complex dynamics, a challenge in both theoretical and empirical realms. The present work shows how integrating approaches from computational algebraic topology and dynamical systems may help us meet this challenge. In particular, we focus on the application of multiscale topological analysis to coordinated rhythmic processes. First, theoretical arguments are introduced as to why certain topological features and their scale-dependency are highly relevant to understanding complex collective dynamics. Second, we propose a method to capture such dynamically relevant topological information using persistent homology, which allows us to effectively construct a multiscale topological portrait of rhythmic coordination. Finally, the method is put to test in detecting transitions in real data from an experiment of rhythmic coordination in ensembles of interacting humans. The recurrence plots of topological portraits highlight collective transitions in coordination patterns that were elusive to more traditional methods. This sensitivity to collective transitions would be lost if the behavioral dynamics of individuals were treated as separate degrees of freedom instead of constituents of the topology that they collectively forge. Such multiscale topological portraits highlight collective aspects of coordination patterns that are irreducible to properties of individual parts. The present work demonstrates how the analysis of multiscale coordination dynamics can benefit from topological methods, thereby paving the way for further systematic quantification of complex, high-dimensional dynamics in living systems.
Topological portraits of multiscale coordination dynamics
Mengsen Zhang, William D. Kalies, J. A. Scott Kelso, Emmanuelle Tognoli
Coordination in living systems—from cells to people—must be understood at multiple levels of description. Analyses and modelling of empirically observed patterns of biological coordination often focus either on ensemble-level statistics in large-scale systems with many components, or on detailed dynamics in small-scale systems with few components. The two approaches have proceeded largely independent of each other. To bridge this gap between levels and scales, we have recently conducted a human experiment of mid-scale social coordination specifically designed to reveal coordination at multiple levels (ensemble, subgroups and dyads) simultaneously. Based on this experiment, the present work shows that, surprisingly, a single system of equations captures key observations at all relevant levels. It also connects empirically validated models of large- and small-scale biological coordination—the Kuramoto and extended Haken–Kelso–Bunz (HKB) models—and the hallmark phenomena that each is known to capture. For example, it exhibits both multistability and metastability observed in small-scale empirical research (via the second-order coupling and symmetry breaking in extended HKB) and the growth of biological complexity as a function of scale (via the scalability of the Kuramoto model). Only by incorporating both of these features simultaneously can we reproduce the essential coordination behaviour observed in our experiment.
Connecting empirical phenomena and theoretical models of biological coordination across scales
Mengsen Zhang , Christopher Beetle , J. A. Scott Kelso and Emmanuelle Tognoli