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Evolution-in-materio: evolving computation in materials

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Publication details

JournalEvolutionary Intelligence
DateE-pub ahead of print - 5 Feb 2014
DatePublished (current) - Apr 2014
Issue number1
Number of pages19
Pages (from-to)49-67
Early online date5/02/14
Original languageEnglish


Evolution-in-materio (EIM) is the manipulation of a physical system by computer controlled evolution (CCE). It takes the position that to obtain useful functions from a physical system one needs to apply highly specific physical signals and place the system in a particular physical state. It argues that CCE is an effective methodology for doing this. One of the potential advantages of this is that artificial evolution can potentially exploit physical effects that are either too complex to understand or hitherto unknown. EIM is most commonly used as a methodology for implementing computation in physical systems. The method is a hybrid of analogue and classical computation in that it uses classical computers to program physical systems or analogue devices. Thus far EIM has only been attempted in a rather limited set of physical and chemical systems. This review paper examines past work related to EIM and discusses historical underpinnings behind such work. It describes latest developments, gives an analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of such work and the challenges that still remain.

    Research areas

  • Evolutionary algorithms, Material computation, Evolvable hardware

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