Organizing a Hierarchical Tableau of Evolvability Concepts

illustration of selection for evolvability via modularly-varying fitness function Illustration of selection for evolvability via modularly-varying fitness function.

Biological organisms exhibit spectacular adaptation to their environments. However, another marvel of biology lurks behind the adaptive traits that organisms exhibit over the course of their lifespans: it is hypothesized that biological organisms also exhibit adaptation to the evolutionary process itself. Although a great deal of fruitful work has explored this idea of “evolvability,” disparate and orthogonal definitions and explanations have splintered in the literature.

This work pursues a review of evolvability theory and a unifying organization of theory, illustrated with examples and experiments from biology and evolutionary computing. It is hoped that a more nuanced and comprehensive understanding of this aspect of evolution will translate to more powerful digital evolution techniques.

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2017 Evolvability: What Is It and How Do We Get It?
Otis C. Chapman Honors Program Thesis
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Date April 17th, 2017
Venue Otis C. Chapman Honors Program Thesis
Abstract

Biological organisms exhibit spectacular adaptation to their environments. However, another marvel of biology lurks behind the adaptive traits that organisms exhibit over the course of their lifespans: it is hypothesized that biological organisms also exhibit adaptation to the evolutionary process itself. That is, biological organisms are thought to possess traits that facilitate evolution. The term evolvability was coined to describe this type of adaptation. The question of evolvability has special practical relevance to computer science researchers engaged in longstanding efforts to harness evolution as an algorithm for automated design. It is hoped that a more nuanced understanding of biological evolution will translate to more powerful digital evolution techniques. This thesis will present a theoretical overview of evolvability, illustrated with examples from biology and evolutionary computing, and discuss computational experiments probing the relationship between environmental influence on the phenotype and evolvability.

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@thesis{moreno2017evolvability,
  author={Moreno, Matthew Andres},
  title={Evolvability: What Is It and How Do We Get It?},
  school={University of Puget Sound},
  type={Bachelor's Thesis},
  url={http://soundideas.pugetsound.edu/honors_program_theses/22/},
  year={2017}
}
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Moreno, Matthew Andres, “Evolvability: What Is It and How Do We Get It?” (2017). Honors Program Theses. 22. https://soundideas.pugetsound.edu/honors_program_theses/22

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