Unpicking tartan CIAO plots: Understanding irregular coevolutionary cycling

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We report results from a series of studies coevolving players for simple Rock-Paper-Scissors games. These results demonstrate that Current Individual versus Ancestral Opponent (CIAO) plots, which have been proposed as a visualization technique for detecting both coevolutionary progress and coevolutionary cycling, suffer from ambiguity with regard to an important but rarely discussed class of cyclic behavior. While regular cycling manifests itself as a characteristic banded plot, irregular cycling produces an irregular tartan pattern that is also consistent with random drift through strategy space. Although this tartan pattern is often reported in the literature on coevolutionary algorithms, it has received little attention or analysis. Here we argue that irregular cycling will tend to be more prevalent than regular cycling, and that it corresponds to a class of coevolutionary scenario that is important both theoretically and in practice. As such, it is desirable that we improve our ability to distinguish its occurrence from that of random drift, and other forms of coevolutionary dynamic.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-92
Number of pages24
JournalAdaptive Behavior
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2004


  • evolutionary computation
  • visualisation
  • CIAO plot
  • cycling
  • coevolution
  • coevolutionary dynamics
  • disengagement
  • coevolutionary disengagement

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