Online Journal of Peace and Conflict Resolution 1.5

Robert Axelrod. The Complexity of Cooperation: Agent-Based Models of Competition and Collaboration. Princeton University Press. 1998. 230 pp. Paperback

The Complexity of Cooperation is the follow-up to Robert Axelrod's popular and influential The Evolution of Cooperation. This book extends the analysis of the latter into new areas.

The Evolution of Cooperation dealt with strategies developed in a simple Prisoner's Dilemma game and explained the formulation and test of Axelrod's best strategy for the Dilemma, Tit-for-Tat. Complexity, however, is written with a different goal and tone. Axelrod admits that Evolution was written within and influenced by the Cold War, whereas Complexity attempts to deal with issues arising from a multipolar world.

Axelrod relies on agent-based modeling in Complexity, a scientific system which produces simulated data over time which can be inductively analyzed. Agent-based modeling assumes that the conditions underlying complex behavior are often simple and interreacting, so this approach is not altogether different from his previous work. This approach allows for the development and extension of his analysis to account for misunderstandings (noise) and more complex phenomona.

Complexity is not a wholly new work; instead it is a collection of articles published between 1986 and 1995 which deal with a variety of topics from the spread of culture to standard-setting in the computer industry. Axelrod does not shy away from the wide-ranging implications of his work in a variety of fields. Included are a new introductory chapter about agent-based modeling, introductions to each chapter, and an appendix including resources for students and professors.

This book is both broad and deep and is sure to become a well-used textbook in this growing field.


Introduction Robert Axelrod
Chapter 1 "Evolving New Strategies: The Evolution of Strategies in the Iterated Prisoner's Dilemma" Robert Axelrod
Chapter 2 "Coping with Noise: How to Cope with Noise in the Iterated Prisoner's Dilemma" Jianzhong Wu and Robert Axelrod
Chapter 3 "Promoting Norms: An Evolutionary Approach to Norms" Robert Axelrod
Chapter 4 "Choosing Sides: A Landscape Theory of Aggregation" Robert Axelrod and D. Scott Bennett
Chapter 5 "Setting Standards: Coalition Formulation in Standard-Setting Alliances" Robert Axelrod, Will Mitchell, Robert E. Thomas, D. Scott Bennett, and Erhard Bruderer
Chapter 6 "Building New Political Actors: A Model for the Emergence of New Political Actors" Robert Axelrod
Chapter 7 "Disseminating Culture - The Dissemination of Culture: A Model with Local Convergence and Global Polarization" Robert Axelrod
Appendix A "Replication of Agent-Based Models -- Aligning Simulation Models: A Case Study and Results" Robert Axtell, Robert Axelrod, Joshua M. Epstein, and Michael D. Cohen
Appendix B "Resources for Agent-Based Modeling" Robert Axelrod

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