Mathematical models of social group competition have been used to explain the extinction of many world languages, the growing number of people leaving organized religion, and even the evolution of left-handedness. These models are beautiful in their simplicity, but they leave out important details that limit their predictive power. For instance, these models predict that organized religion will go extinct around the world, but is this inevitable? We will test the impact of adding in certain details, such as population heterogeneity, into these models, and we will evaluate all models using real-world data. This project may involve agent-based modeling, stochastic differential equations, partial differential equations, probability, and more (but no previous experience is necessary).
Coding skills (preferably Matlab or Python) and experience with differential equations required.