Genetic Programming and Evolvable Machines

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 339–375 | Cite as

The Regulatory Network Computational Device

  • Rui L. Lopes
  • Ernesto Costa


Evolutionary Algorithms (EA) approach the genotype–phenotype relationship differently than does nature, and this discrepancy is a recurrent issue among researchers. Moreover, in spite of some performance improvements, it is a fact that biological knowledge has advanced faster than our ability to incorporate novel biological ideas into EAs. Recently, some researchers have started exploring computationally new comprehension of the multitude of the regulatory mechanisms that are fundamental in both processes of inheritance and of development in natural systems, by trying to include those mechanisms in the EAs. One of the first successful proposals was the Artificial Gene Regulatory Network (ARN) model, by Wolfgang Banzhaf. Soon after some variants of the ARN were tested. In this paper, we describe one of those, the Regulatory Network Computational Device, demonstrating experimentally its capabilities. The efficacy and efficiency of this alternative is tested experimentally using typical benchmark problems for Genetic Programming (GP) systems. We devise a modified factorial problem to investigate the use of feedback connections and the scalability of the approach. In order to gain a better understanding about the reasons for the improved quality of the results, we undertake a preliminary study about the role of neutral mutations during the evolutionary process.


Genetic regulatory network Evolution Development Neutrality 



The authors express their gratitude to the editor and the anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments. The work of the first author is funded by Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia, grant ref. SFRH / BD / 69106 / 2010.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Informatics and Systems of the University of CoimbraCoimbraPortugal

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