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J Theor Biol. 2004 Nov 7;231(1):97-106.

Effects of neighbourhood size and connectivity on the spatial Continuous Prisoner's Dilemma.

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  • 1Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of British Columbia,Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z1.


The Prisoner's Dilemma, a two-person game in which the players can either cooperate or defect, is a common paradigm for studying the evolution of cooperation. In real situations cooperation is almost never all or nothing. This observation is the motivation for the Continuous Prisoner's Dilemma, in which individuals exhibit variable degrees of cooperation. It is known that in the presence of spatial structure, when individuals "play against" (i.e. interact with) their neighbours, and "compare to" ("learn from") them, cooperative investments can evolve to considerable levels. Here, we examine the effect of increasing the neighbourhood size: we find that the mean-field limit of no cooperation is reached for a critical neighbourhood size of about five neighbours on each side in a Moore neighbourhood, which does not depend on the size of the spatial lattice. We also find the related result that in a network of players, the critical average degree (number of neighbours) of nodes for which defection is the final state does not depend on network size, but only on the network topology. This critical average degree is considerably (about 10 times) higher for clustered (social) networks, than for distributed random networks. This result strengthens the argument that clustering is the mechanism which makes the development and maintenance of the cooperation possible. In the lattice topology, it is observed that when the neighbourhood sizes for "interacting" and "learning" differ by more than 0.5, cooperation is not sustainable, even for neighbourhood sizes that are below the mean-field limit of defection. We also study the evolution of neighbourhood sizes, as well as investment level. Here, we observe that the series of the interaction and learning neighbourhoods converge, and a final cooperative state with considerable levels of average investment is achieved.

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