Synopses & Reviews
"Life is so diverse and complex that is seems impossible to extract the general principles governing individual living systems. The amazing growth of the power of modern computers has opened up entirely new avenues for exploring the behavior of living systems by allowing us to design and conduct experiments with models, ""Artificial Life,"" which may in turn lead to a set of ""general principles of the living state"" independent of particular implementations. Such a ""theory of living systems"" might be able to predict the evolution not only of worlds in which information is coded in binary strings that behave accrding to programs that have the ability to replicate, but also of the systems that gave rise to life on earth. This book and CD-ROM were developed in a lab-oriented course taught at Cal Tech in 1995 and 1996, and simultaneously augmented by ""A-Life"" research conducted there. The courses were attended by students from physics, computer science, and neural sciences. Prerequisites were an understanding of statistical physics, thermodynamics, and basic biology, and a familiarity with computer architectures and scientific computing techniques. The A-Life project brought together the theory of systems of self-replicating information and their experimental realization with the intent of leading us further along the road not only to uncover aspects of complex systems that have remained hidden or misunderstood because of computational difficulties, but also perhaps to discover general principles of the living state. The accompanying CD-ROM is designed to run on Windows and Unix machines. It includes the AVIDA software, along with an electronic version of the users manual; a Java applet that can be used to do Cellular Automata homework; and additional software pertaining to particular chapters in the book, such as a sandpile and a percolation program. URLs for relevant A-Life web pages and software nesting at remote servers are also provided. FROM THE REVIEWS: ""The book is an interesting and worthwhile contribution of a physicist who is intrigued by the special features of living and evolving systems. But what makes this book remarkable is the intellectual approach that the author advocates for research and, in fact, provides as software."" SCIENCE ""Adami's book is extraordinarily important. It represents a true landmark in the new field of Artificial Life, and will find a wide readership, ranging from university students to professional researchers."" Prof. Dr. Heinz G. Schuster, University of Kiel, Germany, Author of DETERMINISTIC CHAOS: AN INTRODUCTION"
Life is so diverse and complex that is seems impossible to extract the general principles governing each individual living system. Fortunately, however, the unrelenting growth of the power of modern computers has opened up entirely unexpected avenues of opportunity for us in exploring the construction of artificial living systems. This has created the possibility to design and conduct dedicated experiments with these systems, and has generated interest in the idea of formulating a set of "general principles of the living state" which are quite independent of a particular implementation. Such a "theory of living systems" might equally well-predict the outcome of experiments performed on the protean living system which gave rise to life on earth, e.g., and RNA world, and those worlds in which information is coded in binary strings compiled to programs that have the ability to self-replicate: thus and instance of "Artificial Life." This book and CD-ROM have been developed in a lab-oriented course taught at Cal Tech in 1995 and 1996, and simultaneously augmented by Artificial Life research conducted there. The courses have been attended by an interdisciplinary group of students from backgrounds in physics, computer science, and the computational neural sciences. Pre- requisite understanding of statistical physics and thermodynamics, basic biology, as well as familiarity with computer architectures and scientific computing techniques are assumed. This project is an attempt to bring together the necessary theoretical groundwork for understanding the dynamics of systems of self-replicating information, as well as the result from initial experiments carried out with artificial living systems based on this paradigm.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 351-360) and index.
Table of Contents
Flavors of Artificial Life.
- Artificial Chemistry and Self-Replicating Code.
- Introduction to Information Theory.
- Statistical Mechanics and Thermodynamics.
- Complexity of Simple Living Systems.
- Self-Organization to Criticality.
- Fitness Landscapes Chapter Nine - Experiments with AVIDA.
- Propagation of Information.
- Adaptive Learning at the Error Threshold.
- Appendix A - AVIDA User's.
- Manual References.