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    ABSTRACT: Scatter hoarders are animals (e.g. squirrels) who cache food (nuts) over a number of sites for later collection. A certain minimum amount of food must be recovered, possibly after pilfering by another animal, in order to survive the winter. An optimal caching strategy is one that maximizes the survival probability, given worst case behaviour of the pilferer. We modify certain 'accumulation games' studied by Kikuta & Ruckle (2000 J. Optim. Theory Appl.) and Kikuta & Ruckle (2001 Naval Res. Logist.), which modelled the problem of optimal diversification of resources against catastrophic loss, to include the depth at which the food is hidden at each caching site. Optimal caching strategies can then be determined as equilibria in a new 'caching game'. We show how the distribution of food over sites and the site-depths of the optimal caching varies with the animal's survival requirements and the amount of pilfering. We show that in some cases, 'decoy nuts' are required to be placed above other nuts that are buried further down at the same site. Methods from the field of search games are used. Some empirically observed behaviour can be shown to be optimal in our model.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2011 · Journal of The Royal Society Interface
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    ABSTRACT: In data analysis problems where the data are represented by vectors of real numbers, it is often the case that some of the data-points will have “missing values”, meaning that one or more of the entries of the vector that describes the data-point is not observed. In this paper, we propose a new approach to the imputation of missing binary values. The technique we introduce employs a “similarity measure” introduced by Anthony and Hammer (2006) [1]. We compare experimentally the performance of our technique with ones based on the usual Hamming distance measure and multiple imputation.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2011 · Discrete Applied Mathematics
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    ABSTRACT: We advance and apply the mathematical theory of search games to model the problem faced by a predator searching for prey. Two search modes are available: ambush and cruising search. Some species can adopt either mode, with their choice at a given time traditionally explained in terms of varying habitat and physiological conditions. We present an additional explanation of the observed predator alternation between these search modes, which is based on the dynamical nature of the search game they are playing: the possibility of ambush decreases the propensity of the prey to frequently change locations and thereby renders it more susceptible to the systematic cruising search portion of the strategy. This heuristic explanation is supported by showing that in a new idealized search game where the predator is allowed to ambush or search at any time, and the prey can change locations at intermittent times, optimal predator play requires an alternation (or mixture) over time of ambush and cruise search. Thus, our game is an extension of the well-studied 'Princess and Monster' search game. Search games are zero sum games, where the pay-off is the capture time and neither the Searcher nor the Hider knows the location of the other. We are able to determine the optimal mixture of the search modes when the predator uses a mixture which is constant over time, and also to determine how the mode mixture changes over time when dynamic strategies are allowed (the ambush probability increases over time). In particular, we establish the 'square root law of search predation': the optimal proportion of active search equals the square root of the fraction of the region that has not yet been explored.
    Full-text · Article · May 2011 · Journal of The Royal Society Interface
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