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Evolution programs (was: Reevolving bones)

Jonathan R. Wagner wrote:

[big snip related to the never-ending cladistic wars]

> Dinogeorge wrote:
> >Mickey Rowe, and I suggested the following experiment:
> >Using a computer program that simulates evolution
>         Can we really do this? Forgive, but I rather 
> thought that if we could do this, I wouldn't have to 
> go to grad school.

Good news, you can leave grad school!

Evolution Programs (EPs) are widely used (I can give you 
hundreds of references). They consist on what is called a 
Genetic Algorithm (GA) that acts on a particular Data 
Structure. GAs in their simplest form act on binary digit 
"cells" through genetic operators like mutation and 
cross-over. The binary representation is not efficient to 
solve most problems and other forms to represent the data 
and special kinds of crossing-over and mutation operators 
have been developed. It's nice to see that evolution based 
on selection and random mutation really works (I've used EPs
to solve equations).

A thing like Dinogeorge suggests is feasible, the big problem 
is probably the CPU time. Of course you would try something 
which is not a dinosaur but just a set of characters that could 
be used in a cladogram... Given my background in Physics I would 
have no problem in calling that set of characters a "dinosaur 
model" just to stay on topic in this list.

Dalmiro Maia                    dalmiro@mesopy.obspm.fr