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Journal Article

Mixing times in evolutionary game dynamics


Traulsen,  Arne
Research Group Evolutionary Theory, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Society;

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Black, A. J., Traulsen, A., & Galla, T. (2012). Mixing times in evolutionary game dynamics. Physical Review Letters, 109: 028101. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.109.028101.

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Without mutation and migration, evolutionary dynamics ultimately leads to the extinction of all but one species. Such fixation processes are well understood and can be characterized analytically with methods from statistical physics. However, many biological arguments focus on stationary distributions in a mutation-selection equilibrium. Here, we address the mixing time required to reach stationarity in the presence of mutation. We show that mixing times in evolutionary games have the opposite behavior from fixation times when the intensity of selection increases: in coordination games with bistabilities, the fixation time decreases, but the mixing time increases. In coexistence games with metastable states, the fixation time increases, but the mixing time decreases. Our results are based on simulations and the Wentzel-Kramers-Brillouin approximation of the master equation.