Infoscience

Journal article

Learning and Evolution

In the last few years several researchers have resorted to artificial evolution (e.g. genetic algorithms) and learning techniques (e.g. neural networks) for studying the interaction between learning and evolution. These studies have been conducted for two different purposes: (a) looking at the performance advantages obtained by combining these two adaptive techniques; (b) understanding the role of the interaction between learning and evolution in biological organisms. In this paper we describe some of the most representative experiments conducted in this area and point out their implications for both perspectives outlined above. Understanding the interaction between learning and evolution is probably one of the best examples in which computational studies have shed light on problems that are difficult to study with the research tools employed by evolutionary biology and biology in general. From an engineering point of view, the most relevant results are those showing that adaptation in dynamic environments gains a significant advantage by the combination of evolution and learning. These studies also show that the interaction between learning and evolution deeply alters the evolutionary and the learning process themselves, offering new perspectives from a biological point of view. The study of learning within an evolutionary perspective is still in its infancy and in the forthcoming years it will produce an enormous impact on our understanding of how learning and evolution operate.

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