Evolutionary computing

February 14, 2008

Those of you who know me will know that I’m always following some odd scheme or other, often with potential gambling implications, only to end up getting bored or frustrated.

One of these interesting ideas is that of genetic algorithms – instead of writing your entire program, you write a ‘fitness function’ that serves as a survival rating (e.g. a gambling scheme that makes money would score highly, one that goes bankrupt would score lowly) and allow the computer to evolve a program that does what you want.

I’m not very good at that yet, but some people are: this is a very neat youtube video showing the evolution of a watch. My only quibble is that they don’t really define what the fitness function is.

I also stumbled on this discussion,  in which Linus Torvalds explains that he believes Linux will become better than other systems because it has all the properties of an evolutionary system. I think there are similarities, but I’m not quite sure the argument stands up (it’s not that easy to create a Linux application, and there’s a definite element of design to it), but it’s an interesting proposition that I hadn’t considered before.

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