Abstract: In evolutionary algorithms, much time is spent evaluating inferior phenotypes that produce no offspring. A common heuristic to address this inefficiency is to stop evaluations early if they hold little promise of attaining high fitness. However, the form of this heuristic is typically dependent on the fitness function used, and there is a danger of prematurely stopping evaluation of a phenotype that may have recovered in the remainder of the evaluation period. Here a stopping method is introduced that gradually reduces fitness over the phenotype's evaluation, rather than accumulating fitness. This method is independent of the fitness function used, only stops those phenotypes that are guaranteed to become inferior to the current offspring-producing phenotypes, and realizes significant time savings across several evolutionary robotics tasks. It was found that for many tasks, time complexity was reduced from polynomial to sublinear time, and time savings increased with the number of training instances used to evaluate a phenotype as well as with task difficulty.
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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).