Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Nice Evolutionary Computation Year

This year, 2009, is full of nice dates to be celebrated!

Today is the birthday of Charles Darwin, the scientist who began evolutionary biology as we know it today. It's Darwin's 200th annivesary.

Also, this year it will be completed 150 years since the publication of a seminal book and one of the most influential along all the human history: On the Origin of Species.

Its contribution to our biological world understanding is tremendous, of course it left for a time so many gaps that Darwin was unable to give the correct and complete answers, but its merits overcast any imperfection it may have.

Another interesting date sends us back to 45 years ago: 1964. The destination is Germany and its beautiful capital city: Berlin. There, a seasoned senior student Ingo Rechenberg and a newbie Hans-Paul Schwefel are about to produce the first results that would pave the way for a branch of evolutionary computation: Evolution Strategies (or Evolutionsstrategie, in German). A crude, simple and -- why not? -- elegant experiment takes place. Its results would show both students the method could be worth to be worked on.

Now, let's jump 25 five years into the future. The year is 1989. An enthusiastic professor from the University of Alabama releases his first book which would set the stage in the near future for so many debates around evolutionary computation, evolutionary algorithms and, of course, genetic algorithms themselves. The book would become an evolutionary computation classic by its own merits, making the fine art of genetic algorithms reachable and, more important, understandable for the large wide audience out there. It was in this book that scientists, practioners, students, and professors had their first contacts with genetic algorithms and evolutionary computation, being hard to find nowadays someone who implemented a genetic algorithm without having heard and/or read the pages of Genetic Algorithms in Search, Optimization, and Machine Learning. Of course, it is impossible to publish something expecting everyone will agree with your ideas and that book has found so many readers along the time having each one a critique view about it. Be the critiques for praise or not, it is difficult not to tell the importance such a book (has) had inside evolutionary computation. But, something is very hard to deny: That is a great book to read. Despite some small imperfections the reader gets what the book promises: A nice introduction to genetic algorithms and enough understanding to code one in computer programming language.

The way Professor David Edward Goldberg teaches the reader is very instructive and clarifying. He even simulates by hand a simple step of a genetic algorithm.

This year is a year of celebration for all of us who had/have a contact with evolutionary ideas. Let's praise and thank all those persons who invested a nice amount of the time of their lives helping to build the fields in which so many researchers, students, and so on have followed since then.

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Blogger John said...

Here is a related project involving simulated evolution - Very Interesting =

13 February, 2009 00:34  

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