Mutation, sexual reproduction and survival in dynamic environments

Ruta Mehta, Ioannis Panageas, Georgios Piliouras, Prasad Tetali, Vijay V. Vazirani

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


A new approach to understanding evolution [34], namely viewing it through the lens of computation, has already started yielding new insights, e.g., natural selection under sexual reproduction can be interpreted as the Multiplicative Weight Update (MWU) Algorithm in coordination games played among genes [8]. Using this machinery, we study the role of mutation in changing environments in the presence of sexual reproduction. Following [35], we model changing environments via a Markov chain, with the states representing environments, each with its own fitness matrix. In this setting, we show that in the absence of mutation, the population goes extinct, but in the presence of mutation, the population survives with positive probability. On the way to proving the above theorem, we need to establish some facts about dynamics in games. We provide the first, to our knowledge, polynomial convergence bound for noisy MWU in a coordination game. Finally, we also show that in static environments, sexual evolution with mutation converges, for any level of mutation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication8th Innovations in Theoretical Computer Science Conference, ITCS 2017
EditorsChristos H. Papadimitriou
PublisherSchloss Dagstuhl- Leibniz-Zentrum fur Informatik GmbH, Dagstuhl Publishing
ISBN (Electronic)9783959770293
StatePublished - Nov 1 2017
Event8th Innovations in Theoretical Computer Science Conference, ITCS 2017 - Berkeley, United States
Duration: Jan 9 2017Jan 11 2017

Publication series

NameLeibniz International Proceedings in Informatics, LIPIcs
ISSN (Print)1868-8969


Other8th Innovations in Theoretical Computer Science Conference, ITCS 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • Evolution
  • Mutation
  • Non-linear dynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software


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