Tuesday,
16 March 2004
Defining Fitness: A Measurement Theoretical Approach
Günter P. Wagner
Yale University
12:05 pm, 817R Cathedral of Learning
Abstract:
Fitness is one of the fundamental concepts of biology, but yet its
definition is still controversial. In this talk I will present a
solution to the problem of how to define fitness by utilizing tools
and concepts from measurement theory. Measurement theory is a branch
of applied mathematics that deals with the relationship between
empirical structures and the numerical structures that represent
them, i.e. quantitative concepts or scales. The basic idea is that
fitness is a measure of competitive ability with certain projectability
properties. From that it is argued that fitness can be defined in
terms of a pair comparison system based on an operational definition
of competitive ability. I will present a new metrization theorem
to accommodate this definition and show that from that metrization
theorem the basic equation of population genetic theory, the Wright
selection equation, can be derived.
