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Evolutionary snowdrift game incorporating costly punishment in structured populations


  • Chan, Nat W.H.
  • Xu, C.
  • Tey, Siew Kian
  • Yap, Yee Jiun
  • Hui, P.M.


The role of punishment and the effects of a structured population in promoting cooperation are important issues. Within a recent model of snowdrift game (SG) incorporating a costly punishing strategy (P), we study the effects of a population connected through a square lattice. The punishers, who carry basically a cooperative (C) character, are willing to pay a cost α so as to punish a non-cooperative (D) opponent by β. Depending on α, β, the cost-to-benefit ratio r in SG, and the initial conditions, the system evolves into different phases that could be homogeneous or inhomogeneous. The spatial structure imposes geometrical constraint on how one agent is affected by neighboring agents. Results of extensive numerical simulations, both for the steady state and the dynamics, are presented. Possible phases are identified and discussed, and isolated phases in the r–β space are identified as special local structures of strategies that are stable due to the lattice structure. In contrast to a well-mixed population where punishers are suppressed due to the cost of punishment, the altruistic punishing strategy can flourish and prevail for appropriate values of the parameters, implying an enhancement in cooperation by imposing punishments in a structured population. The system could evolve to a phase corresponding to the coexistence of C, D, and P strategies at some particular payoff parameters, and such a phase is absent in a well-mixed population. The pair approximation, a commonly used analytic approach, is extended from a two-strategy system to a three-strategy system. We show that the pair approximation can, at best, capture the numerical results only qualitatively. Due to the improper way of including spatial correlation imposed by the lattice structure, the approximation does not give the frequencies of C, D, and P accurately and fails to give the homogeneous AllD and AllP phases.

Suggested Citation

  • Chan, Nat W.H. & Xu, C. & Tey, Siew Kian & Yap, Yee Jiun & Hui, P.M., 2013. "Evolutionary snowdrift game incorporating costly punishment in structured populations," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 392(1), pages 168-176.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:phsmap:v:392:y:2013:i:1:p:168-176
    DOI: 10.1016/j.physa.2012.07.078

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