Adaptive evolution in static and dynamic environments

Hirst, Anthony John (1998). Adaptive evolution in static and dynamic environments. PhD thesis The Open University.



This thesis provides a framework for describing a canonical evolutionary system. Populations of individuals are envisaged as traversing a search space structured by genetic and developmental operators under the influence of selection. Selection acts on individuals' phenotypic expressions, guiding the population over an evaluation landscape, which describes an idealised evaluation surface over the phenotypic space. The corresponding valuation landscape describes evaluations over the genotypic space and may be transformed by within generation adaptive (learning) or maladaptive (fault induction) local search.

Populations subjected to particular genetic and selection operators are claimed to evolve towards a region of the valuation landscape with a characteristic local ruggedness, as given by the runtime operator correlation coefficient. This corresponds to the view of evolution discovering an evolutionarily stable population, or quasi-species, held in a state of dynamic equilibrium by the operator set and evaluation function. This is demonstrated by genetic algorithm experiments using the NK landscapes and a novel, evolvable evaluation function, The Tower of Babel. In fluctuating environments of varying temporal ruggedness, different operator sets are correspondingly more or less adapted.

Quantitative genetics analyses of populations in sinusoidally fluctuating conditions are shown to describe certain well known electronic filters. This observation suggests the notion of Evolutionary Signal Processing. Genetic algorithm experiments in which a population tracks a sinusoidally fluctuating optimum support this view. Using a self-adaptive mutation rate, it is possible to tune the evolutionary filter to the environmental frequency. For a time varying frequency, the mutation rate reacts accordingly. With local search, the valuation landscape is transformed through temporal smoothing. By coevolving modifier genes for individual learning and the rate at which the benefits may be directly transmitted to the next generation, the relative adaptedness of individual learning and cultural inheritance according to the rate of environmental change is demonstrated.

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