A Vivisection of the ev Computer Organism: Identifying Sources of Active Information [with Erratum]

George Montañez, Winston Ewert, William A. Dembski, Robert J. Marks II
BIO-Complexity 2010(3):1-6. doi:10.5048/BIO-C.2010.3 Cite as: Montañez G, Ewert W, Dembski WA, Marks II RJ (2010) A vivisection of the ev computer organism: Identifying sources of active information. BIO-Complexity 2010(3):1-6. doi:10.5048/BIO-C.2010.3


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.

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