Evolutionary Algorithms


Faster and cheaper than ever
, supercomputers used to simulate the evolutionary process (many millions of generations/iterations) in technological design are now innovating within the span of days:

Among [the devices] revealed at the Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference held in London this summer were long-life USB memory sticks, superfast racing-yacht keels, ultra-high-bandwidth optical fibres, high performance Wi-Fi antennae (evolved to avoid patent fees), cochlear implants that can optimise themselves to individual patients and a cancer-biopsy analyser that was evolved to match a human pathologist’s tumour-spotting skills.

Perhaps the most cunning use of an evolutionary algorithm, though, is by Dr [John] Koza [of Stanford University, who is one of the pioneers of the field]. His team at Stanford developed a Wi-Fi antenna for a client who did not want to pay a patent-licence fee to Cisco Systems. The team fed the algorithm as much data as they could from the Cisco patent and told the software to design around it. It succeeded in doing so. The result is a design that does not infringe Cisco’s patent—and is more efficient to boot. A century and a half after Darwin suggested natural selection as the mechanism of evolution, engineers have proved him right once again. [The Economist]

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Your guide to The Economist: Week of July 14, 2007

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Ageing: The long and the short of it70 and just now having kids? –they’ll probably live longer than the rest of us…
Law firms: City magicLondon lawyers’ salaries catch up to NY, along with their dissatisfaction with the profession…
Financial education: Poor young thingspublic education to blame for generation’s inability to balance a checkbook?…   
Read the rest of this entry »

Your guide to The Economist: Week of July 7, 2007

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The music industry: A change of tune: The record industry deals with being cut out of artists’ ancillary incomes 
Valuing urban trees: Green gold: Putting a price on tiber, maybe one that will translate to book value…
Food: No ketchup, please: French officials aren’t keen on Kraft’s bid for LU, but can’t find a decent reason to oppose it, unless ‘ketchup doesn’t really go with biscuits’ counts as one…  
Neuroeconomics: Money isn’t everything: Testosterone and single-round games… Read the rest of this entry »

“[Equity] research in commotion: Is it getting harder for securities analysts to pay their way?”

The Economist would like you to think that the answer is still up in the air: while on the one hand, sell-side research budgets are shrinking –and in some cases disappearing altogether– on the other, a recent study* comparing the accuracy of a single buy-side firm’s recommendations to that of a sample of sell-side recommendations shows that the single buy-side firm is less accurate than the sample of sell-side firms.

The authors of the paper* attempt to establish the validity of their conclusion by comparing the stated performance of a sample of buy-side firms to that of sell-side ‘buy’ recommendations. The major flaw in this paper is not that the sample size consists of one, but that the authors characterize the buy-side as a consortium of long-only mutual funds, and altogether ignore Read the rest of this entry »

Your guide to The Economist: Week of June 09, 2007

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Innovation: Lessons from Apple
…the magazine lays out your plan for Apple-ish success… 
India’s economy: Goldilocks tests the vindaloo
India’s RBI: to tighten, or not
Climate change: Fresh Air
…hold up, what about China?…
Lawnmowers: It all adds up…California’s state governments subsidize small engine upgrades in the name of environmental protection… Read the rest of this entry »

Your guide to The Economist: Week of June 02, 2007

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Climate Change: A Stairway to Heaven?…
electric conveyor belt above the arctic to funnel the carbon out of the atmosphere, no we’re not making this up…
Climate Change: Trading Thin Air…
pig effluent = carbon credits…
Climate Change: Irrational Incandescence…turn off your lights and drive your car…
Luxury goods in India: Maharajahs in the shopping mall…India’s middle class discovers Louis Vuitton…
Is there a God? To believe or not to believe…
two sides, two books…
Uncertainty: The Perils of Prediction…
the magazine reviews Taleb’s new book…
Hedge fundraising…
the boys and their charities… Read the rest of this entry »