Donít invent, evolve
Date: Thursday, October 04, 2007 @ 19:06:43 GMT
Topic: General

Via The inventor’s trial-and-error approach can be automated by software that mimics natural selection. “I HAVE not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” So said Thomas Edison, the prolific inventor, speaking of his laborious attempts to perfect the incandescent light bulb. Although 10,000 trial-and-error attempts might sound a little over the top, an emerging technique for developing inventions knocks even Edison’s exhaustive approach into a cocked hat. Evolutionary design, as it is known, allows a computer to run through tens of millions of variations on an invention until it hits on the best solution to a problem.

As its name suggests, evolutionary design borrows its ideas from biology. It takes a basic blueprint and mutates it in a bid to improve it without human input. As in biology, most mutations are worse than the original. But a few are better, and these are used to create the next generation. Evolutionary design uses a computer program called an evolutionary algorithm, which takes the initial parameters of the design (things such as lengths, areas, volumes, currents and voltages) and treats each like one gene in an organism. Collectively, these genes comprise the product’s genome. By randomly mutating these genes and then breeding them with other, similarly mutated genomes, new offspring designs are created. These are subjected to simulated use by a second program. If a particular offspring is shown not to be up to the task, it is discarded. If it is promising, it is selectively bred with other fit offspring to see if the results, when subject to further mutation, can do even better...

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10/04/07 - UC Berkeley Posts Full Lectures to YouTube
Berkeley is now using YouTube as an important teaching tool. Today marks the first time a university has made full course lecture available via the popular video sharing site. Featuring over 300 hours of videotaped courses initially, officials hope to continue to expand this program. - Source

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