Applied Math Seminar

04/18/2019 - 11:00am to 12:00pm
POT 745
Speaker(s) / Presenter(s): 
Oyita Udiani, University of Tennessee

Title: Modeling the emergence of Division of labor in social systems


Abstract: Division of labor (DOL) is a key pattern of social organization that has evolved in a diverse array of systems from microbes, insects and, of course, humans.  Theoretical models predict that division of labor is optimal (and that evolutionary selection can favor it) if there are increasing efficiency (or fitness) benefits arising from individual specialization. One main open question about DOL is ‘What proximate (behavioral) mechanisms are responsible for its initial emergence?’ In this talk, I will propose a novel theory using a framework of individual energetics and optimization in social dynamics. The key assumption is that individuals are myopic optimizers of a utility function that reflects the tradeoffs of energy/ time needed to perform, and become proficient in, a set of alterative (fitness-bearing) tasks. This hypothesis serves as counterpoint to existing theory of inter-individual variation in “response thresholds” popularized by studies of task allocation in social insect colonies.  Simulation findings show that DOL can emerge from individual optimization and can be enhanced by varying parameters of fatigue and group size. This result has broader implications for understanding the evolutionary transition to sociality (the period in which previously solitary animals began living together in groups).

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