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Varying environments can speed up evolution Nadav Kashtan, Elad Noor, and Uri Alon*
 

Summary: Varying environments can speed up evolution
Nadav Kashtan, Elad Noor, and Uri Alon*
Deptartment of Molecular Cell Biology and Physics of Complex Systems, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot 76100, Israel
Edited by Curtis G. Callan, Jr., Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, and approved June 19, 2007 (received for review December 28, 2006)
Simulations of biological evolution, in which computers are used to
evolve systems toward a goal, often require many generations to
achieve even simple goals. It is therefore of interest to look for
generic ways, compatible with natural conditions, in which evo-
lution in simulations can be speeded. Here, we study the impact of
temporally varying goals on the speed of evolution, defined as the
number of generations needed for an initially random population
to achieve a given goal. Using computer simulations, we find that
evolution toward goals that change over time can, in certain cases,
dramatically speed up evolution compared with evolution toward
a fixed goal. The highest speedup is found under modularly
varying goals, in which goals change over time such that each new
goal shares some of the subproblems with the previous goal. The
speedup increases with the complexity of the goal: the harder the
problem, the larger the speedup. Modularly varying goals seem to
push populations away from local fitness maxima, and guide them

  

Source: Alon, Uri - Departments of Molecular Cell Biology & Physics of Complex Systems, Weizmann Institute of Science

 

Collections: Biology and Medicine