The Mathematics of Cooperation

Numbered honey bees on a comb - by Tom Seeley

Photograph by Tom Seeley

For those of you whom I have not yet met, I am a new faculty member in the realm of math and science. I teach math courses and my research focuses on using mathematics to better understand (and hopefully solve) biological, ecological, sociological, … problems. In my research I have used diverse mathematical approaches to understand self-organization in honey bee colonies, the evolution of counter-intuitive behaviors in a parasitoid wasp, and cooperation in groups of organisms. Some of you might already know about some of my work from the talk I gave last December on the evolution of restraint in the parasitoid wasp Hyposoter horticola.

Photograph by Katie Montovan

This Friday at the science workshop I will present my research on the mathematics of cooperation. I will talk somewhat generally about the ways that mathematicians approach behavioral questions and how these approached have added to our understanding of cooperation. I will also discuss my own work to understand how repeated interactions and frequent mistakes can facilitate the evolution of greater levels of cooperation in groups.

I think that we will even find a way to provide a cooperation themed snack!

An example of a cooperative dilemma

An example of a cooperative dilemma – to be discussed more on Friday

 

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