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Artificial Life

Fall 2004, Vol. 10, No. 4, Pages 413-431
(doi: 10.1162/1064546041766451)
© 2004 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
A Graph Grammar Approach to Artificial Life
Article PDF (356.32 KB)

We present the high-level language of relational growth grammars (RGGs) as a formalism designed for the specification of ALife models. RGGs can be seen as an extension of the well-known parametric Lindenmayer systems and contain rule-based, procedural, and object-oriented features. They are defined as rewriting systems operating on graphs with the edges coming from a set of user-defined relations, whereas the nodes can be associated with objects. We demonstrate their ability to represent genes, regulatory networks of metabolites, and morphologically structured organisms, as well as developmental aspects of these entities, in a common formal framework. Mutation, crossing over, selection, and the dynamics of a network of gene regulation can all be represented with simple graph rewriting rules. This is demonstrated in some detail on the classical example of Dawkins' biomorphs and the ABC model of flower morphogenesis: other applications are briefly sketched. An interactive program was implemented, enabling the execution of the formalism and the visualization of the results.