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Monday, March 24, 2014

Game-Theoretical Models in Biology

"A stag might fight to death over a territory or concede it uncontested to another. Neighboring trees invest varying amounts of energy into growth, with the tallest blocking sunlight to others. Viruses infecting a common cell can either make all proteins required for their reproduction or free ride on those made by others. How does evolution shape the strategic phenotype of organisms in life-and-death contests?"  (Allen)

For all of you mathematics and biology laymen out there (and I most certainly include myself in this category), evolutionary game theory applies the mathematical framework of games to the evolutionary processes of biological lifeforms.  The concept, as it relates to it's original purpose, was introduced to a wide audience in 1973 by John Maynard Smith and George R. Price, but it has since captured the interest of academics from varying disciplines, including economists, anthropologists, sociologists, and philosophers.

Jan Rychtář , Professor in UNCG's Department of Mathematics and Statistics, and Mark Broom's new book, Game-Theoretical Models in Biology, "covers the major topics of evolutionary game theory [and] presents both abstract and practical mathematical models of real biological situations. It discusses the static aspects of game theory in a mathematically rigorous way that is appealing to mathematicians. In addition, the authors explore many applications of game theory to biology, making the text useful to biologists as well" (CRC Press).

"Broom and Rychtár lead their readers all the way from the rudiments of evolutionary game theory to the research frontier...  Their coverage is remarkably wide-ranging, from old standards like the Hawk-Dove game to newer applications such as epidemiology. The authors strike an excellent compromise between breadth and depth by limiting the generality of some theoretical treatments, choosing good examples, and using up-to-date references to round out their coverage" (Mike Mesterton-Gibbons, Florida State University).

As Wilfrid Laurier University's Ross Cressman notes, "the book will serve both as an important resource for researchers in the field and as a valuable text for students at a graduate or senior undergraduate level."

"This engaging primer demonstrates that there is no tension between mathematical elegance and biological fidelity: both are needed to further our understanding of evolution" (Allen).

Allen, B. A. (2013). 0 Brave New World with Such Games. Science, 341(6148), 844. doi:10.1126/science.1241750

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Cybercrime and Cybersecurity in the Global South

Cybercrime has become one of the fastest growing areas of criminal activity throughout the world.  The increasingly global nature of the internet and the availability of relatively inexpensive mobile technologies has broadened the scope and capabilities of cyber criminals, providing an international network for the perpetration of their crimes.  In the past, cybercrime was typically committed by individuals or small groups; however, alarmingly, organized crime groups have recently begun to engage in this type of criminal activity as well.

In his recently published book, Cybercrime and Cybersecurity in the Global South, Nir Kshetri, Professor in the Bryan School of Business and Economics, "documents and compares the patterns, characteristics and processes of cybercrime activities in major regions and economies in the Global South" (Macmillan).  Kshetri "divides the Global South into distinct regions, devoting a chapter each to the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, China, India, the Middle East and North Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, sub-Saharan Africa, and the developing nations of the Pacific Islands" (Peter, Grabosky, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Books).

An "interesting aspect of the book is its comparison of offender characteristics, crime types, and victims from one region to another. The author explains these differences in terms of political economy. They reflect the level of economic development, state capacity, information technology skill sets, availability of legitimate employment, cultural factors and political influences from country to country" (Peter Grabosky, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Books).

Kshetri's "book [also]contributes to bridge the gap in understanding the role of cybersecurity in international political economy and related areas. Indeed, it explains the complexities and mechanisms involved in this new war, the reconfiguration of existing organized crime, the emergence of new international organized crimes groups and the changing nature of constraints facing the states."  (Pupillo, Lorenzo, Communications and Strategies, April 2013).

Cybercrime and Cybersecurity in the Global South "provides an interesting perspective on cybercrime in non-western countries. Its breathtaking range of coverage provides a lens into locations and settings that might otherwise be overlooked by cybercrime researchers from the Global North" (Peter Grabosky, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Books).