[rc5] Genetic Algoritms

Chris Arguin Chris.Arguin at unh.edu
Wed Nov 5 12:32:45 EST 1997

Here is a proposal I haven't seen yet. Genetic Algorithms can be
distributed fairly well, and have a wide variety of applications.
For those who aren't familiar with them, here is a rough concept: 
You start with some programs. They may be randomly generated code, or they
may be existing, working programs. You run them, and use some method to
score them. You then "kill off" the weakest, and combine the strongest to
generate new programs (the method of combination varies widely). The goal
is to produce a new program that exhibits desirable characteristics, as
defined by your scoring system. 

I propose to do this in "CoreWars." CoreWars is a game where multiple
"warriors" (programs) are placed in the same computer. The goal is to stop
all the other processes running, while still running yourself. You can
read/write to anywhere in the computer, so you want to overwrite the
enemy program with code to make it die. But your program must be small and
fast, or you'll be destroyed first.

The CoreWars virtual machine already exist in a wide variety of platforms,
and generates scoring information for you. There is an Internet CoreWars
gaming group, which uses e-mail submission. We could spend a week to
generate the best warrior, and then put it in the competition. 

People have used genetic algorithms in CoreWars before, with some success.
I am proposing it here because we have a lot more potential processing
power, and because I think it would be a rather nifty project. Imagine if
our warrior came in first! The turnaround time is fairly quick, so we get
"instant gratification." Better than distributed chess. And we could use
off-line machines without taking much risk of losing anything.

As for the base genetic pool, we have two choices. We could randomly
generate code, and work up from there (the "pure" way), or we could use
the database of a few hundred warriors that already exist. This might
jump-start us into action earlier.

For more information about CoreWars, check out http://www.koth.org.

So what do you think? 

Chris Arguin                 | "The duke had a mind that ticked like a  
Chris.Arguin at unh.edu         |  clock and, like a clock, it regularly 
                             +--------------+	went cuckoo." - Wyrd Sisters,
http://leonardo.sr.unh.edu/arguin/home.html |               Terry Pratchett

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