EPSRC Network on Evolvability in Biology & Software Systems

Evolvability, Genetics & Development in Natural and Constructed Systems: Abstracts of the EPSRC Evolvability Network Symposium

Tewin Bury Farm Hotel, Hertfordshire, England, UK
26-28 August 2003

University of Hertfordshire Computer Science Technical Report 389
C. L. Nehaniv, P. J. Bentley & S. Kumar (Editors)

Fractal Proteins and Computational Development

Fractal Proteins and Computational Development


Department of Computer Science
University College London
Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, UK


The fractal protein is a new concept intended to improve evolvability, scalability, exploitability and provide a rich medium for evolutionary computation and evolutionary design. Here the idea of fractal proteins and fractal proteins with concentration levels are introduced, and a series of experiments showing how evolution can design and exploit them within gene regulatory networks is described. These show how fractal GRNs have a natural tendency towards damage tolerance, and can be successfully employed for tasks such as robot control.

Patterns are crucial in development. Biological development is not simply a process to create a phenotype. It is an on-going process that shapes, adapts and repairs an organism, beginning at conception and ending at the death of the organism. Consequently, an organism is not an end-result of a developmental program, it is an ever-changing solution that is maintained by development. From a computational viewpoint, the processes of development appear to be constant, never-ending patterns, generated by gene-gene interactions in gene regulatory networks and at higher levels in cell-cell interactions, and so on. Phenotypes are the dynamic high-level results of those non-stop lower-level interactions.