Abstract: A long time goal of evolutionary roboticists is to create everincreasing lifelike robots which reflect the important aspects of biology in their behavior and form. One way to create such creatures is to use evolutionary algorithms and genotype to phenotype maps which act as proxies for biological development. One such algorithm is HyperNEAT whose use of a substrate which can be viewed as an abstraction of spatial development used by Hox genes. Previous work has looked into answering what effect changing the embedding has on HyperNEAT’s efficiency, however no work has been done on the effect of representing different aspects of the agents morphology within the embeddings. We introduce the term embodied embeddings to capture the idea of using information from the morphology to dictate the locations of neurons in the substrate. We further compare three embodied embeddings, one which uses the physical structure of the robot and two which use abstract information about the robot’s morphology, on an embodied version of the retina task which can be made modular, hierarchical, or a combination of both.
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Bongard's work focuses on understanding the general nature of cognition, regardless of whether it is found in humans, animals or robots. This unique approach focuses on the role that morphology and evolution plays in cognition. Addressing these questions has taken him into the fields of biology, psychology, engineering and computer science.
Danforth is an applied mathematician interested in modeling a variety of physical, biological, and social phenomenon. He has applied principles of chaos theory to improve weather forecasts as a member of the Mathematics and Climate Research Network, and developed a real-time remote sensor of global happiness using messages from Twitter: the Hedonometer. Danforth co-runs the Computational Story Lab with Peter Dodds, and helps run UVM's reading group on complexity.
Laurent studies the interaction of structure and dynamics. His research involves network theory, statistical physics and nonlinear dynamics along with their applications in epidemiology, ecology, biology, and sociology. Recent projects include comparing complex networks of different nature, the coevolution of human behavior and infectious diseases, understanding the role of forest shape in determining stability of tropical forests, as well as the impact of echo chambers in political discussions.
Hines' work broadly focuses on finding ways to make electric energy more reliable, more affordable, with less environmental impact. Particular topics of interest include understanding the mechanisms by which small problems in the power grid become large blackouts, identifying and mitigating the stresses caused by large amounts of electric vehicle charging, and quantifying the impact of high penetrations of wind/solar on electricity systems.
Bagrow's interests include: Complex Networks (community detection, social modeling and human dynamics, statistical phenomena, graph similarity and isomorphism), Statistical Physics (non-equilibrium methods, phase transitions, percolation, interacting particle systems, spin glasses), and Optimization(glassy techniques such as simulated/quantum annealing, (non-gradient) minimization of noisy objective functions).