Evolving Novel Gene Regulatory Networks for Structural Engineering Designs

Rahul Dubey, Simon John Hickinbotham, Andrew Colligan, Imelda Friel, Edgar Buchanan Berumen, Mark Price, Andy Tyrrell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Engineering design optimization poses a significant challenge, usually requiring human expertise to discover superior solutions. While various search techniques have been employed to generate diverse designs, their effectiveness is often limited by problem-specific parameter tuning, making them less generalizable and scalable. This paper introduces a framework inspired by evolutionary and developmental (Evo-Devo) concepts, aiming to automate the evolution of structural engineering designs. In biological systems, Evo-Devo governs the growth of single-cell organisms into multi-cellular organisms through the use of Gene Regulatory Networks (GRNs). GRNs are inherently complex and
highly nonlinear, and this paper explores the use of neural networks and genetic programming as artificial representations of GRNs to emulate such behaviors. In order to evolve a wide range of Pareto fronts for artificial GRNs, this paper introduces a new technique, a real-value encoded neuro-evolutionary method termed “real-encoded NEAT” (RNEAT). The performance of RNEAT is compared with two well-known evolutionary search techniques across different 2D and 3D problems. The experimental results demonstrate two key findings: Firstly, the proposed framework effectively generates a population of GRNs that can produce diverse structures for both 2D and 3D problems. Secondly, the proposed RNEAT algorithm outperforms its competitors on more than 50% of the problems examined.
Original languageEnglish
JournalArtificial Life
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 16 Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the University’s Research Publications and Open Access policy.


  • Evolutionary Search
  • Gene Regulatory Networks
  • NEAT
  • CGP
  • Design Optimization

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