Teemu Roos, University of Helsinki - Directed acyclic graphs as a model for biological and cultural evolution
Tuesday, May 17, 2016 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM EDT
The idea of a "Tree of Life" suggests that evolution can be characterized by a branching tree-like process where lineages once diverged never interact again. This assumption tends to be more or less correct on a coarse scale but not on a finer scale where evolutionary processes such as horizontal gene transfer are common. In the latter kind of scenarios, phylogenetic networks have been found more suitable.
The same goes for many instances of cultural evolution, i.e., the evolution of cultural artifacts such as oral traditions. I will discuss a formulation of phylogenetic networks based on directed acyclic graphs (DAGs) in the modeling of both biological and cultural evolution, focusing in particular on the computational challenges. A case study of the evolution of the fairy tale commonly known as the Little Red Riding Hood is presented to demonstrate the benefits of the approach.