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Diagram: Fitness Landscape

Fitness Landscape

A fitness landscape is a concept that employs the metaphor of a physical landscape to depict more or less 'fit' regions of phase space.

Related Terms and Topics: Fitness Peaks, basins-of-attractions, critical-point, Tipping Points, Phase Space


A fitness landscape is not a physical space. It is a way of describing the range of all possible behaviors open to a system, or its Phase Space. Agents within a Complex System may have the capacity to behave in a wide variety of ways, but some of these are more efficient than others. The landscape is a metaphoric mapping of how well different states within a system's degrees of freedom perform. This performance is measured as Fitness, with more 'fit' states being mapped higher within the landscape, or as Fitness Peaks.

That said peaks within the fitness landscape are not static, but change over time.

Example: At one point, Detroit was a 'fit' site for gaining employment, due to the auto-industry. Subsequently, with shifting global production trends, the forces that made Detroit 'fit' altered, and its 'peak' within the landscape of potential employment gradually eroded.

The interesting about a fitness landscape is that there are multiple peaks. We can think of these as multiple niches that are ripe for inhabitation. Different species can pursue different survival strategies to fill these niches. Some strategies can support a large population of species (think of this as a broad and tall hill). Others may able to eke out an existence, but their niche may only support a small number of species. This peak might be equally tall, but would be narrower.

The idea of a fitness landscape serves to illustrate the broader concept of Fitness within a Complex System.

This is tantamount to a system's Degrees of Freedom.

Fitness Peaks

 


Cite this page:

Wohl, S. (2019, 31 October). Fitness Landscape. Retrieved from https://kapalicarsi.wittmeyer.io/definition/fitness-landscape

Fitness Landscape was updated October 31st, 2019.

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  • This is a list of Terms that Fitness Landscape is related to.

    A regime of particular fitness that an agent can occupy.

    Fitness ‘peaks’ are regimes wherein a given agent behavior maximizes energetic returns while minimizing outputs. Peaks are thus optimum behaviors in phase space - though there may be numerous peaks, each employing different strategies. See also {{Fitness-Landscape}} Learn more →
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  • This is a list of Urban Fields that Fitness Landscape is related to.

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    A tipping point (often referred to as a 'critical point') is a threshold within a system where the system shifts from manifesting one set of qualities to another.

    Complex systems do not follow linear, predictable chains of cause and effect. Instead, system trajectories can diverge wildly into entirely different regimes. Learn more →

    Complex Adaptive Systems become more 'fit' over time. Depending on the system, Fitness can take many forms,  but all involve states that achieve more while expending less energy.

    What do we mean when we speak of Fitness? For ants, fitness might be discovering a source of food that is abundant and easy to reach. For a city, fitness might be moving the maximum number of people in the minimum amount of time. But fitness criteria can also vary - what might be fit for one agent isn't necessarily fit for another. For example, what makes a hotel room 'fit'? Is it location, or price, or cleanliness, or amenities, or all of the above?

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    Complex Systems can unfold in multiple trajectories. However, there may be trajectories that are more stable or 'fit'. Such states are considered 'attractor states'.

    Complex Adaptive Systems do not obey predictable, linear trajectories. They are "Sensitive to Initial Conditions", whereby small changes in these conditions can lead the system to unfold in entirely unexpected ways. That said, some of these 'potential unfoldings' are more likely to occur than others. We can think of these as 'attractor states' to which a system - out of all possible states - will tend to gravitate. Learn more →
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