The evolutionary spatial prisoner's dilemma on a cycle

  • AP Burger Stellenbosch University
  • M van der Merwe Stellenbosch University
  • JH van Vuuren Stellenbosch University


In this paper we consider the Evolutionary Spatial Prisoner's Dilemma (ESPD) in which players are modelled by the vertices of a cycle representing a spatial or organisational structure amongst the players. During each round of the ESPD every pair of adjacent players in the cycle play a classical prisoner's dilemma against each other, and they update their strategies from one round to the next based on the perceived success achieved by the strategies of neighbouring players during the previous round. In this way players are able to adapt and learn from each other's strategies as the game progresses without being able to rationalise good strategies. We characterise all steady states of the game as well as the structures of those initial states that lead to the emergence of persistent substates of cooperation over time. We finally determine analytically (i.e. without using simulation) the probability that the game's states will evolve from a randomly generated initial state towards a steady state which accommodates some form of persistent cooperation. More specifically, we show that there exists a range of game parameter values for which the likelihood of the emergence of persistent cooperation increases to almost certainty as the length of the cycle increases.

Author Biography

JH van Vuuren, Stellenbosch University
Fields of Specialization: Combinatorial optimization, vehicle routing, scheduling theory, graph colouring & domination, discrete applied mathematics, decision support systems
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