Evolutionary computation has been promising self-programming machines for 60 years – so where are they?

phys.org | 3/27/2018 | Staff
marika (Posted by) Level 3
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What if computers could program themselves? Instead of the laborious job of working out how a computer could solve a problem and then writing precise coded instructions, all you would have to do is tell it what you want and the computer would generate an algorithm that solves your problem.

Enter evolutionary computation, which can be seen as a type of artificial intelligence and a branch of machine learning. First suggested in the 1950s, evolutionary computation is the idea that a computer can evolve its own solutions to problems, rather than humans having to go through a series of possibly complex steps to write the computer program ourselves. In theory, this would mean computer programs that might take weeks to program manually could be ready in a matter of minutes.

Idea - Computers - Problems - Humans - Computer

This idea enabled computers to solve complex problems that may not be well be understood and are difficult for humans to tackle. Computer scientists have used evolutionary computation on many problems, including formulating the best mix of ingredients for shrimp feed, portfolio optimisation, telecommunications, playing games and automated packing.

And researchers who have been studying evolutionary computation for over 60 years have made tremendous advances. It is even the subject of several scientific journals. Yet, as I noted in a recent paper, the idea still isn't used widely outside the research community. So why isn't evolutionary computing evolving faster?

Computation - Work

How does evolutionary computation work?

Evolutionary computation draws on Charles Darwin's principles of natural evolution, commonly known as survival of the fittest. That is, the weakest (less well adapted) members of a species die off and the strongest survive. Over many generations, the species will evolve to become better adapted to its environment.

Computation - Computer - Population - Solutions - Problem

In evolutionary computation, the computer creates a population of potential solutions to a problem. These are often random solutions, so they are unlikely to...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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