— Michael Polanyi "Life Transcending Physics and Chemistry," Chemical & Engineering News (21 August 1967): 64.
A shaping of boundaries may be said to go beyond a mere fixing of boundaries and establishes a 'controlling principle.' It achieves control of the boundaries by imprinting a significant pattern on the boundaries of the system. Or, to use information language, we may say that it puts the system under the control of a non-physical-chemical principle by a profoundly informative intervention.
ev is an evolutionary search algorithm proposed to simulate biological evolution. As such, researchers have claimed that it demonstrates that a blind, unguided search is able to generate new information. However, analysis shows that any non-trivial computer search needs to exploit one or more sources of knowledge to make the search successful. Search algorithms mine active information from these resources, with some search algorithms performing better than others. We illustrate these principles in the analysis of ev. The sources of knowledge in ev include a Hamming oracle and a perceptron structure that predisposes the search towards its target. The original ev uses these resources in an evolutionary algorithm. Although the evolutionary algorithm finds the target, we demonstrate a simple stochastic hill climbing algorithm uses the resources more efficiently.[ PDF | BIO-C ]