Electronic Art and Intermedia New Forms of Research and Creative Activity

Philip K. McKinley

Time and Location: Thursday March 31,  12:30-2:00 at Union, Second Floor Parler C

Title: Artificial Life in Science and Engineering


The increasing interaction between computing technology and the physical world requires that systems be able to adapt to changing conditions, compensate for failures, and even fend off attacks, all with minimal human intervention.  Robust operation is especially important for remote autonomous systems, such as wireless sensor networks and robot swarms, which need to perform complex collective tasks despite lossy communication and limited resources.  To design robust and resilient computational systems, one can take inspiration from nature: Living organisms have an amazing ability to adapt to changing environments.  For this reason, many researchers have investigated biologically-inspired approaches to designing adaptive systems by mimicking the behaviors of eusocial insects or emulating defensive processes in the human body.  An alternative approach is to “harness” the process that produced those robust natural systems in the first place: evolution.  In this talk, I will discuss some of our recent work in applying evolutionary computation to the development of high-assurance software, multi-agent systems, and cooperating groups of robots.  Many of our studies involve digital evolution, a form of evolutionary computation closely associated with artificial life, in which populations of self-replicating computer programs evolve in a user-defined computational environment (effectively, a digital Petri dish).  I will also discuss how these studies, originally intended to advance engineering, are beginning to shed light on evolution in natural systems.

Philip K. McKinley received the B.S. degree in mathematics and computer science from Iowa State University in 1982, the M.S. degree in computer science from Purdue University in 1983, and the Ph.D. degree in computer science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1989. Dr. McKinley is currently a Professor in the Department of Computer Science at Michigan State University, where he has been on the faculty since 1990. He was a member of technical staff at Bell Laboratories in Naperville, Illinois from 1982-1990, on leave of absence 1985-1989. Dr. McKinley has served as an Associate Editor for IEEE Transactions on Parallel and Distributed Systems and was co-chair of the program committee for the 2003 IEEE International Conference on Distributed Computing Systems. His current research interests include artificial life, self-adaptive software, evolutionary computation, mobile computing, and group communication protocols. He is a member of the IEEE and ACM. He may be contacted electronically at mckinley@cse.msu.edu.

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