In 2002 Ken Stanley and Risto Miikkulainen presented an evolutionary method for developing solutions using Neural Networks – NeuroEvolution of Augmenting Topologies, or NEAT. This technique, while relatively new, takes inspiration from natural evolution and has been used in a number of very interesting applications from agent control through to creation of new music and art forms.

It’s an area of research that is highly relevant to my work, and to better understand the topic I’m putting together an implementation in Objective C, the preferred language for Mac and iOS devices.  As an introduction to the topic and for other students I’ve put together a brief presentation on the subject.

Presentation on NEAT

Since then Ken has moved on to the Evolutionary Complexity Research Group (EPLEX) at the University of Central Florida and extended the research in a number of ways, the most interesting to me being in the search for novelty.  Ken has a website that shows some of the directions and algorithms, and to get an idea of where it is heading I’d recommend his Keynote speech from the 2010 SPLASH conference.