Journal article

Genetic representation and evolvability of modular neural controllers

The manual design of con- trol systems for robotic devices can be challenging. Methods for the automatic synthesis of control systems, such as the evolution of artificial neural networks, are thus widely used in the robotics community. However, in many robotic tasks where multiple interdependent control problems have to be solved simultaneously, the performance of conventional neuroevolution techniques declines. In this paper, we identify interference between the adaptation of different parts of the control system as one of the key challenges in the evolutionary synthesis of artificial neural networks.As modular net- work architectures have been shown to reduce the effects of such interference, we propose a novel, implicit modular genetic representation that allows the evolutionary algorithm to automatically shape modular network topologies. Our experiments with plastic neural networks in a simple maze learning task indicate that adding a modular genetic representation to a state-of-the-art implicit neuroevolution method leads to better algorithm performance and increases the robustness of evolved solutions against detrimental mutations.

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