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NSF Grant to Support Research on Evolutionary Computation

Lee SpectorHampshire College Professor of Computer Science Lee Spector has received a $42,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to support his research on evolutionary computation.

Spector’s project, entitled “Human-Competitive Evolutionary Computation,” will explore evolutionary computation, a technique in which random programs are generated and put into competition with one another, with the strongest programs “having babies,” as Spector puts it. “If, for example, I was trying to write a chess program really well, I would generate a large number of random programs, have them all play each other, and let the ones that do better ‘make babies,’” he says. “After many generations, a truly excellent player may evolve.”

Spector plans on using the grant money to fund transportation to Israel, so he and a team of students can collaborate with Ben-Gurion University Professor of Computer Science Moshe Sipper. The group intends to explore best practices and implementation scenarios for competitive evolutionary computation.

Evolutionary computation has been a focus of Spector’s research for some time, and he is also editor-in-chief of Genetic Programming and Evolvable Machines, a competitive evolutionary computation journal. Spector, along with Hampshire collaborators, has won two “Humie” awards, which are given to the best evolutionary computation results in a competition held at the annual Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference.

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