Can Darwin’s enemy, math, rescue him?
|May 4, 2011||Posted by News under Darwinism, Mathematics|
The concept of fitness optimization is routinely used by field biologists, and first-year biology undergraduates are frequently taught that natural selection leads to organisms that maximize their fitness. Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene (1976) promoted a conceptual integration of modern evolutionary theory in which genes are viewed as optimising agents, which is extremely influential and widespread today and encompasses inclusive fitness theory and evolutionarily stable strategies as well as general optimality ideas. However, mathematical population geneticists mainly deny that natural selection leads to optimization of any useful kind. This fifty-year old schism is intellectually damaging in itself, and has prevented improvements in our concept of what fitness is. One underlying cause is that the link between natural selection and fitness optimization is much more sophisticated than the usual optimization principles associated with dynamical systems, namely Lyapunov functions and gradient functions. (P. 2)
The aim is to formalize relevant links between the mathematics of motion (representing the known process of gene frequency change as the dominant mechanism of evolution) and the mathematics of optimization, in a rigorous way”
One source comments: “I remember working with software programmers who told me that 1 + 1 = 3 for EXTREMELY LARGE values of 1. Maybe this could work for them.”