Abstract: We present a coevolutionary algorithm for inferring the topology and parameters of a wide range of hidden nonlinear systems with a minimum of experimentation on the target system. The algorithm synthesizes an explicit model directly from the observed data produced by intelligently generated tests. The algorithm is composed of two coevolving populations. One population evolves candidate models that estimate the structure of the hidden system. The second population evolves informative tests that either extract new information from the hidden system or elicit desirable behavior from it. The fitness of candidate models is their ability to explain behavior of the target system observed in response to all tests carried out so far; the fitness of candidate tests is their ability to make the models disagree in their predictions. We demonstrate the generality of this estimation-exploration algorithm by applying it to four different problems—grammar induction, gene network inference, evolutionary robotics, and robot damage recovery—and discuss how it overcomes several of the pathologies commonly found in other coevolutionary algorithms. We show that the algorithm is able to successfully infer and/or manipulate highly nonlinear hidden systems using very few tests, and that the benefit of this approach increases as the hidden systems possess more degrees of freedom, or become more biased or unobservable. The algorithm provides a systematic method for posing synthesis or analysis tasks to a coevolutionary system.
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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).