Foundations of Physics

, Volume 17, Issue 7, pp 723–738

Evolutionary drive: The effect of microscopic diversity, error making, and noise

  • P. M. Allen
  • J. M. McGlade
Part III. Invited Papers Dedicated to Ilya Prigogine

DOI: 10.1007/BF01889545

Cite this article as:
Allen, P.M. & McGlade, J.M. Found Phys (1987) 17: 723. doi:10.1007/BF01889545


In order to model any macroscopic system, it is necessary to aggregate both spatially and taxonomically. If average processes are assumed, then kinetic equations of “population dynamics” can be derived. Much effort has gone into showing the important effects introduced by non-average effects (fluctuations) in generating symmetry-breaking transitions and creating structure and form. However, the effects of microscopic diversity have been largely neglected. We show that evolution will select for populations which retain “variability,” even though this is, at any given time, loss-making, predicting that we shall not observe populations with “optimal behavior,” but populations which can “learn.” This lesser short-term efficiency may be why natural diversity is so great. Evolution is seen to be “driven” by the noise to which it leads.

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. M. Allen
    • 1
  • J. M. McGlade
    • 2
  1. 1.Free University of BrusselsBrusselsBelgium
  2. 2.Bedford Institute of OceanographyDartmouthCanada

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