A Toy Model of the Rat Race

D. ben-Avraham 1, Satya N. Majumdar 2, S. Redner 3

Journal of Statistical Mechanics: Theory and Experiment (2007) L04002

We introduce a toy model of the 'rat race' in which individuals try to better themselves relative to the rest of the population. An individual is characterized by a real-valued fitness and each advances at a constant rate by an amount that depends on its standing in the population. The leader advances to remain ahead of its nearest neighbor, while all others advance by an amount that is set by the distance to the leader. A rich dynamics occurs as a function of the mean jump size of the trailing particles. For small jumps, the leader maintains its position, while for large jumps, there are long periods of stasis that are punctuated by episodes of explosive advancement and many lead changes. Intermediate to these two regimes, agents reach a common fitness and evolution grinds to a halt.

  • 1. Department of Physics [Potsdam NY],
    Clarkson University
  • 2. Laboratoire de Physique Théorique et Modèles Statistiques (LPTMS),
    CNRS : UMR8626 – Université Paris XI - Paris Sud
  • 3. Center for Polymer Studies (CPS),
    Boston University