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Evolutionary Computation

Winter 2000, Vol. 8, No. 4, Pages 475-493
(doi: 10.1162/106365600568266)
© 2000 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Embodiment of Evolutionary Computation in General Agents
Article PDF (358.5 KB)

Holland's Adaptation in Natural and Artificial Systems largely dealt with how systems, comprised of many self-interested entities, can and should adapt as a whole. This seminal book led to the last 25 years of work in geneticalgorithms (GAs) and related forms of evolutionary computation (EC). In recent years, the expansion of the Internet, other telecommunications technologies, and other large scale networks have led to a world where large numbers of semi-autonomous software entities (i.e., agents) will be interacting in an open, universal system. This development cast the importance of Holland's legacy in a new light. This paper argues that Holland's fundamental arguments, and the years of developments that have followed, have a direct impact on systems of general network agents, regardless of whether they explicitly exploit EC. However, it also argues that the techniques and theories of EC cannot be directly transferred to the world of general agents (rather than EC-specific) without examination of effects that are embodied in general software agents. This paper introduces a framework for EC interchanges between general-purpose software agents. Preliminary results are shown that illustrate the EC effects of asynchronous actions of agents within this framework. Building on this framework, coevolutionary agents that interact in a simulated producer/consumer economy are introduced. Using these preliminary results as illustrations, areas for future investigation of embodied EC software agents are discussed.