Recently, principles from the biological sciences have motivated the study of alternative computational models and approaches to problem solving. This course explores how principles from theories of evolution and natural selection can be used to construct machines that exhibit nontrivial behavior. In particular, the course covers techniques from genetic algorithms, genetic programming, and artificial life for developing software agents capable of solving problems as individuals and as members of a larger community of agents. Specific topics addressed include representation and schemata; selection, reproduction, and recombination; theoretical models of evolutionary computation; optimal allocation of trials (i.e., bandit problems); search, optimization, and machine learning; evolution of programs; population dynamics; and emergent behavior. Students will participate in seminar discussions and will complete and present the results of an individual project.
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