Theory in Biosciences

, Volume 129, Issue 2, pp 183–191

Computational evolution: taking liberties

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s12064-010-0099-3

Cite this article as:
Correia, L. Theory Biosci. (2010) 129: 183. doi:10.1007/s12064-010-0099-3


Evolution has, for a long time, inspired computer scientists to produce computer models mimicking its behavior. Evolutionary algorithm (EA) is one of the areas where this approach has flourished. EAs have been used to model and study evolution, but they have been especially developed for their aptitude as optimization tools for engineering. Developed models are quite simple in comparison with their natural sources of inspiration. However, since EAs run on computers, we have the freedom, especially in optimization models, to test approaches both realistic and outright speculative, from the biological point of view. In this article, we discuss different common evolutionary algorithm models, and then present some alternatives of interest. These include biologically inspired models, such as co-evolution and, in particular, symbiogenetics and outright artificial operators and representations. In each case, the advantages of the modifications to the standard model are identified. The other area of computational evolution, which has allowed us to study basic principles of evolution and ecology dynamics, is the development of artificial life platforms for open-ended evolution of artificial organisms. With these platforms, biologists can test theories by directly manipulating individuals and operators, observing the resulting effects in a realistic way. An overview of the most prominent of such environments is also presented. If instead of artificial platforms we use the real world for evolving artificial life, then we are dealing with evolutionary robotics (ERs). A brief description of this area is presented, analyzing its relations to biology. Finally, we present the conclusions and identify future research avenues in the frontier of computation and biology. Hopefully, this will help to draw the attention of more biologists and computer scientists to the benefits of such interdisciplinary research.


Evolutionary algorithmsArtificial lifeEvolutionOptimizationEvolutionary operatorsSymbiogenetics

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.LabMAgUniversity of LisbonLisbonPortugal