gds2012 banner small

We invite you to submit a paper to the GDS track at GECCO 2012, the premier conference for GDS-related work worldwide. GDS covers all aspects of scalable and complex systems, with work ranging from biologically inspired approaches to automated engineering design. Each paper submitted to the GDS Track will be reviewed by experts in the field. The size and prestige of the GECCO conference will allow many researchers to learn about your work, both at the conference and via the proceedings (GECCO has the highest impact rating of all conferences in the field of Evolutionary Computation and Artificial Life).

—Greg Hornby and René Doursat, 2012 GDS track chairs


kauffmanWe are thrilled to announce that Stuart Kauffman has accepted to give a keynote speech for the GDS track. Dr. Kauffman is a renowned theoretical biologist and complex systems researcher especially interested in the question of the origins of life on Earth. He is best known for arguing that the complexity of biological systems and organisms might result as much from self-organization and far-from-equilibrium dynamics as from Darwinian natural selection, as well as for applying models of Boolean networks to simplified genetic circuits. Stuart Kauffman rose to prominence through his association with the Santa Fe Institute, where he was faculty in residence (1986-1997), and through his work on models in various areas of biology. These included autocatalytic sets in origin of life research, gene regulatory networks in developmental biology, and fitness landscapes in evolutionary biology. Stuart Kauffman held a joint appointment at the University of Calgary in Biological Sciences and Physics & Astronomy (2005-2009), then joined in 2010 the University of Vermont where he continues his work with UVM's Complex Systems Center.

iQBSDr. Kauffman's keynote is sponsored by iQBS, the Institute for Quantitative Biomedical Sciences at Dartmouth. We wish to thank Dr. Jason H. Moore, iQBS Director and GECCO General Chair, for his kind support.


Scalable Systems

Faced with an escalation of systems’ size and complexity at all levels, whether hardware (integrated parts), software (program modules), or networks (applications and users), the tradition of rigidly designing systems in every detail from a top-down perspective becomes unsustainable. One way of thinking of this problem is the challenge of creating systems with improved scalability. With this direction, much of the focus of the GDS communities has been in developing scalable representations, whether they be artificial developmental systems inspired by biology, or procedural representations drawing from the fields of grammars, programming languages and engineering design.

Complex Systems

Another way of thinking of them is as complex systems, defined as large sets of elements that self-organize in a bottom-up fashion through local interactions. Several bio-inspired disciplines have already derived principles of distributed computation from the observation of neurons, ants, or genes. Yet, these are essentially used in classical problem-solving tasks such as classification, stochastic optimization or parameter search, and might not be fully exploiting the emergent properties of their multi-agent models. It is especially the case of evolutionary computation (EC), which still heavily relies on “direct” genotype-phenotype mappings despite the fact that real genes encode the behavior of cells, not organisms – and John Holland invented genetic algorithms to improve the agents of complex adaptive systems. At the level of population dynamics, many EC schemes do take into account exchanges between individuals, but only rarely is each individual intrinsically complex.

Toward Evo-Devo Engineering

After Darwin discovered the evolution of species and Mendel brought to light the laws of inheritance of traits, biology underwent the “Modern Synthesis” of evolution and genetics in the 20th century by revealing the existence of DNA and the molecular basis of gene expression. More than 150 years after Darwin’s and Mendel’s work, however, the developmental link from genotype to phenotype remains unclear. While most of biological evolutionary research has focused on selection, it is only recently that a deeper understanding of the mechanisms of variation became the primary concern of evolutionary development, or “evo-devo”, a new field comparing the morphogenesis of different species at both genetic and anatomical levels. For evo-devo researchers, the genotype-phenotype link cannot remain an abstraction if we want to break the glass ceiling of evolutionary novelty. From what composition of material exactly do new and functional complex structures spontaneously arise?

Likewise, looking at the full evo-devo picture should be an important concern of systems engineering and computer science when venturing in the arena of autonomous architectures and other self-x properties. The ambition of the GDS track at GECCO 2012 is to contribute to new avenues in evolutionary engineering by stressing the importance of fundamental laws of generative and developmental variations as a prerequisite to the selection of artificial systems. Because indirect mappings promote compact encodings, modularity and combinatorial reuse, complex multi-agent architectures might be in a unique position to provide the “solution-rich” space needed for emergent innovation.

By putting a special emphasis on the evolution of complex systems, the GDS track reaches out to emergent, innovative communities that share the same spirit as artificial embryogeny and rewriting systems, such as: amorphous computing, autonomic networks, collective robotics, evo-devo modeling, morphogenetic engineering, organic computing, spatial computing, swarm chemistry, unconventional/natural computing, and others.

Diversity Preservation

As a natural complement to GDS approaches, researchers growing and evolving complex structures must also investigate new selection mechanisms to help them better exploit and manage the potential of such complexity. In that sense, methods that bias the search process toward more discovery and away from convergence, in particular encourage and preserve diversity at both genotypic and phenotypic levels, are an important part of the evo-devo effort. The GDS track is therefore also open to original heuristics, search and optimization algorithms that are especially suited to the emergence of fine-grained, collective entities.

The conference will be held in Philadelphia, USA. For more information, please see the GECCO 2012 homepage at GECCO is sponsored by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Special Interest Group on Genetic and Evolutionary Computation (SIGEVO). SIG Services: 2 Penn Plaza, Suite 701, New York, NY, 10121, USA, 1-800-342-6626 (USA and Canada) or +212-626-0500 (Global).