Introduction

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Modeling Social Interactions

We propose a view of life as a series of discrete interactions among pairs of agents. The resulting theory should apply well to a variety of settings: a culture of bacteria in a Petri dish, a community of people in a small town, or a number of countries that share the same planet.

Put into human terms, all such interactions can be characterized in two ways:
1. how well the interacting individuals have treated each other, and
2. how much benefit each individual has derived from the interaction.

It will be easiest to apply the theory to situations where the above characteristics are straightforward to quantify. For instance, a store vendor derives a well-defined monetary benefit from the dealings with her customers. On the other hand, it is difficult to quantify the emotional benefit you derive when a stranger on the street smiles and wishes you a nice day. Accordingly, the quantitative model of this tutorial is more readily applied to the first interaction scenario than to the second one.

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