Official Description: This graduate-level course provides a thorough introduction to the body of formal theory in the study of the evolution of social behavior in humans and other animals. The course is aimed at the student who maybe had calculus a long time ago but has forgotten most or all of it. Students will learn the basic machinery of game theoretic and simple population genetic models. From there, they will tour animal conflict, altruism, kinship, reciprocity, signaling, and group selection, deriving key results and seeing how evolutionary theories can be made into successful models. Students will learn a great deal of mathematical machinery that will allow them to intelligently read the primary literature and address problems beyond the course material.

The course material is relevant to problems commonly studied in animal behavior, behavioral ecology, primatology, economics, and evolutionary anthropology. If you use evolutionary theory to make predictions about social behavior — in any species — but cannot derive Hamilton’s rule, this course will be of great use to you. The substantial material on cooperation will be of interest to economists, political scientists, sociologists, and human ecologists concerned with conservation and collective action in human societies.

Instructors: Richard McElreath

Other info and comments: No longer offered by Prof. McElreath as he has left Davis. Here is the syllabus for archive sake. There are other formal modeling and game theory courses at UCD — if you have taken one, please leave a comment!

Software used: Mathematica or the open-source alternative, Maxima

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