Based at the Moffitt Cancer Center, Florida, Cancer Ecology is a small research group led by David Basanta. We are mathematical modellers who work with biologists and clinicians, trying to understand the ecology of tumors and the evolutionary dynamics of cancer progression and resistance to treatment.

Game Theory and economics

If you had come to this blog because you typed “game theory blog” in google then this article will not come as a shock but for those of you who would expect to see something about either evolution or cancer or (preferably) both then this is not the usual post.

Still, game theory has been making headlines the last couple of weeks and since this is one of my favourite mathematical tools I could not help coming with a post.

Firstly, The Economist had an article in which they speculate on how game theory could be used to save the world. One of the problems enforcing the measures needed to prevent climate change is that although most players (countries in this game) recognise to some extend that doing something about it is in everybody’s interest. But also, like in the tragedy of the commons game, players know that what is really in their interest is to let everybody else take the burden of protecting the environment while they keep carrying on as usual. The Economist cites research from an institute called New Energy Finance, but anyone working on game theory knows that one approach to the dilemma of the tragedy of the commons is to punish the free riders. Another complementary solution is to set targets that are less ambitious but that can be achieved quickly in order to have frequent and accurate feedback on what players are cooperating and which ones are not.

It has been proven that game theory can help you be awarded a nobel prize, it would be nice if it could also be a tool to coerce countries into taking the measures needed to prevent climate change (or maybe other tasks that also benefit mankind but require the collaboration of many countries).

Using mathematics to tackle cancer: book review in Nature

Science in Germany