# Use numbers or algebra when introducing an evolutionary biology concept?

I'm working on an (approximately 20 pg) evolutionary biology paper for submission to a journal. The paper introduces a couple of strategies (I use "strategies" loosely; they can be carried out by unconscious individuals). I have described the strategies verbally. However, I have also tried to offer additional clarity by putting the strategies into some numerical form. I would imagine that there are many possible models that could be used to test these strategies. I am using one model, with so many simplifying assumptions that even if I were to carry through an algebraic treatment under this model, it would be of little use in giving a general representation of when the strategies can be selected. My goal is to go through an example under the model in order to show how the strategies are supposed to work, not the conditions under which they can be selected.

Is it easier to follow an example with numbers or with algebra in place of those numbers?

• It is easier if you use numbers and avoid symbolic calculation however, it is much more powerful if you can do symbolic calculations. – Remi.b Jul 24 '17 at 15:16
• If you want to learn more about mathematical modelling in evolutionary biology, I recommend A Biologist's Guide to Mathematical Modeling in Ecology and Evolution by Otto an Day – Remi.b Jul 24 '17 at 16:39
• I'm not asking whether it's easier to do. I'm asking whether it's easier to follow. Re powerful: I am using one model, with so many simplifying assumptions that even if I were to carry through an algebraic treatment under this model, it would be of little use in giving a general representation of when the strategies can be selected. – sterid Jul 24 '17 at 22:04
• to follow for the reader? IMO, symbolism always carry more intuition to the reader esp. if the number of variables is greater than say 3. You can always replace the symbols by realistic numbers in your end result to ensure the reader understands. ...I am not sure I'm answering your question though... – Remi.b Jul 24 '17 at 22:11
• Yes, to follow for the reader. What do you mean by symbolism? – sterid Jul 25 '17 at 4:18