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J Otwinowski, S Tanase-Nicola, and I Nemenman. Speeding up evolutionary search by small fitness fluctuations. J Stat Phys 144, 367-378, 2011. PDF, arXiv.
- We consider a fixed size population that undergoes an evolutionary adaptation in the weak mutation rate limit, which we model as a biased Langevin process in the genotype space. We show analytically and numerically that, if the fitness landscape has a small highly epistatic (rough) and time-varying component, then the population genotype exhibits a high effective diffusion in the genotype space and is able to escape local fitness minima with a large probability. We argue that our principal finding that even very small time-dependent fluctuations of fitness can substantially speed up evolution is valid for a wide class of models.