The Annals of Applied Probability

The Axelrod model for the dissemination of culture revisited

Nicolas Lanchier

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This article is concerned with the Axelrod model, a stochastic process which similarly to the voter model includes social influence, but unlike the voter model also accounts for homophily. Each vertex of the network of interactions is characterized by a set of F cultural features, each of which can assume q states. Pairs of adjacent vertices interact at a rate proportional to the number of features they share, which results in the interacting pair having one more cultural feature in common. The Axelrod model has been extensively studied during the past ten years, based on numerical simulations and simple mean-field treatments, while there is a total lack of analytical results for the spatial model itself. Simulation results for the one-dimensional system led physicists to formulate the following conjectures. When the number of features F and the number of states q both equal two, or when the number of features exceeds the number of states, the system converges to a monocultural equilibrium in the sense that the number of cultural domains rescaled by the population size converges to zero as the population goes to infinity. In contrast, when the number of states exceeds the number of features, the system freezes in a highly fragmented configuration in which the ultimate number of cultural domains scales like the population size. In this article, we prove analytically for the one-dimensional system convergence to a monocultural equilibrium in terms of clustering when F = q = 2, as well as fixation to a highly fragmented configuration when the number of states is sufficiently larger than the number of features. Our first result also implies clustering of the one-dimensional constrained voter model.

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Ann. Appl. Probab., Volume 22, Number 2 (2012), 860-880.

First available in Project Euclid: 2 April 2012

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Zentralblatt MATH identifier

Primary: 60K35: Interacting random processes; statistical mechanics type models; percolation theory [See also 82B43, 82C43]

Interacting particle systems opinion dynamics cultural dynamics Axelrod model constrained voter model social influence homophily


Lanchier, Nicolas. The Axelrod model for the dissemination of culture revisited. Ann. Appl. Probab. 22 (2012), no. 2, 860--880. doi:10.1214/11-AAP790.

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