On the Shapley Value of Unrooted Phylogenetic Trees

Kristina Wicke, Mareike Fischer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The Shapley value, a solution concept from cooperative game theory, has recently been considered for both unrooted and rooted phylogenetic trees. Here, we focus on the Shapley value of unrooted trees and first revisit the so-called split counts of a phylogenetic tree and the Shapley transformation matrix that allows for the calculation of the Shapley value from the edge lengths of a tree. We show that non-isomorphic trees may have permutation-equivalent Shapley transformation matrices and permutation-equivalent null spaces. This implies that estimating the split counts associated with a tree or the Shapley values of its leaves does not suffice to reconstruct the correct tree topology. We then turn to the use of the Shapley value as a prioritization criterion in biodiversity conservation and compare it to a greedy solution concept. Here, we show that for certain phylogenetic trees, the Shapley value may fail as a prioritization criterion, meaning that the diversity spanned by the top k species (ranked by their Shapley values) cannot approximate the total diversity of all n species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)618-638
Number of pages21
JournalBulletin of Mathematical Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 15 2019
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience
  • Immunology
  • General Mathematics
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Environmental Science
  • Pharmacology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


  • Noah’s ark problem
  • Phylogenetic tree
  • Shapley transformation
  • Shapley value


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