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Evolutionary Dynamics: Exploring the Equations of Life

By: Martin A Nowak

384 pages, 145 colour line illus

Harvard University Press

Hardback | Sep 2006 | #160702 | ISBN: 0674023382
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NHBS Price: £39.95 $49/€45 approx

About this book

At a time of unprecedented expansion in the life sciences, evolution is the one theory that transcends all of biology. Any observation of a living system must ultimately be interpreted in the context of its evolution. Evolutionary change is the consequence of mutation and natural selection, which are two concepts that can be described by mathematical equations.Evolutionary Dynamics is concerned with these equations of life. In this book, Martin Nowak draws on the languages of biology and mathematics to outline the mathematical principles according to which life evolves. His work introduces readers to the powerful yet simple laws that govern the evolution of living systems, no matter how complicated they might seem.

Evolution has become a mathematical theory, Nowak suggests, and any idea of an evolutionary process or mechanism should be studied in the context of the mathematical equations of evolutionary dynamics. His book presents a range of analytical tools that can be used to this end: fitness landscapes, mutation matrices, genomic sequence space, random drift, quasispecies, replicators, the Prisoner's Dilemma, games in finite and infinite populations, evolutionary graph theory, games on grids, evolutionary kaleidoscopes, fractals, and spatial chaos. Nowak then shows how evolutionary dynamics applies to critical real-world problems, including the progression of viral diseases such as AIDS, the virulence of infectious agents, the unpredictable mutations that lead to cancer, the evolution of altruism, and even the evolution of human language. His book makes a clear and compelling case for understanding every living system--and everything that arises as a consequence of living systems--in terms of evolutionary dynamics.

Martin Nowak is undeniably a great artist, working in the medium of mathematical biology...Nowak has seemingly effortlessly produced a stream of remarkable theoretical explorations into areas as diverse as the evolution of language, cooperation, cancer and the progression from HIV infection to AIDS. Evolutionary Dynamics, based on a course he gives at Harvard, is a comprehensive summary of this work...This is a unique book. It should be on the shelf of anyone who has, or thinks they might have, an interest in theoretical biology. -- Sean Nee Nature 20061101 The lucid presentation, drawing frequently on the author's own research, provides a uniquely compelling introduction to mathematical biology. Nowak aims to demonstrate the power of simple mathematics to illuminate diverse aspects of evolutionary analysis...Evolutionary Dynamics provides a new generation with an opportunity to draw from the masters. -- Steven A. Frank Science 20061222 The book will be a valuable resource both for those familiar with evolutionary dynamics and for those who are interested in learning the subject. -- Ross Cressman Mathematical Reviews 20070101 Two of the crucial processes that drive evolution, mutation and selection, can be described with mathematical equations. This book introduces the reader to the basic mathematical laws that govern the evolution of life...This is a fascinating treatment of evolutionary theory, with many fresh insights. -- S.E. Southeastern Naturalist 20071201


Preface 1. Introduction 2. What Evolution Is 3. Fitness Landscapes and Sequence Spaces 4. Evolutionary Games 5. Prisoners of the Dilemma 6. Finite Populations 7. Games in Finite Populations 8. Evolutionary Graph Theory 9. Spatial Games 10. HIV Infection 11. The Evolution of Virulence 12. The Evolutionary Dynamics of Cancer 13. Language Evolution 14. Conclusion Further Reading References Index

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Martin A. Nowak is Professor of Biology and of Mathematics at Harvard University. He is Director of the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics.

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