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PhD position: Mathematical modelling and data driven analysis of cooperation in stochastic games

  • 2 Mar 2022
  • Plön, Germany

The research group Dynamics of Social Behavior explores under which conditions individuals cooperate. To this end, we translate social interactions into mathematical games. These games can then be explored analytically, with computer simulations, and with behavioral experiments.

Our group currently consists of six members (including two PostDocs and three PhD students), with backgrounds in mathematics, physics, psychology, and economics. The group members have a wide range of competences, including mathematical modeling, game theory, network theory, machine learning, data analysis and computer programming.

We are looking for motivated researchers to join us. Our website: http://web.evolbio.mpg.de/social-behaviour/.

PhD Position (3 years)
Mathematical modelling and data driven analysis of cooperation in stochastic game

One key mechanism for cooperation is repetition. People are more likely to help somebody if they have a chance of meeting them again. Most existing models of repeated games assume that when a set of people interact over multiple rounds, the rules of their interactions remain constant, and are independent of the outcomes of previous interactions.

The project aims to develop and analyze models of repeated games that capture the idea that people's actions affect the rules of their future interactions. Furthermore, the project aims to explore such situations using a data driven analysis.

Applicants should have a degree in mathematics, computer science, economics, physics, or another related field. They should be curious to describe social behaviors mathematically and to analyze data. Ideally, they are already familiar with the theory of Markov chains and stochastic processes, and have some experience in programming and data handling (e.g. Python, R, Matlab, SQL, ...). Good quantitative skills will be important.

Working environment
The Max Planck Research Group "Dynamics of Social Behavior" has been established in October 2019, and is led by Dr. Christian Hilbe.  The group organizes a weekly group meeting in which the group members have an opportunity to present their ongoing work and to discuss current research, and to invite and learn from guest speakers. The group has hosted several guest speakers in the last year; all experts in the field of social behavior with diverse backgrounds.

The group is a part of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön, Germany. The Institute has three departments (Evolutionary Theory, Microbial Population Biology, Evolutionary Genetics) and several additional research groups. The group is well connected to the Department for Evolutionary Theory led by Prof. Arne Traulsen, which offers further seminars and a weekly journal club.

In addition, the research group maintains strong collaborations with external researchers, including researchers from Harvard University, IST Austria, and the University of Exeter.

Plön is a small town close to the Baltic Sea, embedded into a beautiful landscape with innumerous lakes. The area provides ample opportunity for free time activities such as swimming, canoe-ing, or biking in a stunning environment. The cities of Kiel and Lübeck (≥200,000 inhabitants) are only half an hour train ride away. Hamburg (Germany’s second largest city) can be reached within 1.5h by train.

Interested students should send their application (motivation letter, CV, copies of certificates, contact details of two references) by email to to glynatsi@evolbio.mpg.de. Please use the code “PhD2022” in the subject line. 

The Max Planck Society strives for gender and diversity equality. We welcome applications from all backgrounds. The Max Planck Society is committed to employing more disabled individuals and especially encourages them to apply. The Max Planck Society seeks to increase the number of women in those areas where they are underrepresented and therefore explicitly encourages women to apply.

For further questions, please get in contact with Dr. Nikoleta E. Glynatsi. The application deadline is March 2, 2022. However, the positions will remain open until filled by qualified candidates.

Dr. Nikoleta E. Glynatsi

Research Group Dynamics of Social Behavior
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Plön, Germany
Website: https://nikoleta-v3.github.io 
Email: glynatsi@evolbio.mpg.de 

Link to the Institute’s advertisement:  https://www.evolbio.mpg.de/3584989/job_full_offer_18186132

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