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Modularity in Evolution: Some Low-Level Questions

Summary: Modularity in Evolution:
Some Low-Level Questions
Lee Altenberg
Information and Computer Sciences
University of Hawai`i at Manoa
Honolulu, HI U.S.A.
Internet: altenber@hawaii.edu
Copyright c 2004 by Lee Altenberg
Intuitive notions about the advantages of modularity for evolvability run into the
problem of how we parse the organism into traits. In order to resolve the "question
of multiplicity", there needs to be a way to get the human observer out of the way,
and define modularity in terms of physical processes. I will offer two candidate ideas
towards this resolution:
the dimensionality of phenotypic variation, and
the causal screening off of phenotypic variables by other phenotypic variables.
With this framework, the evolutionary advantages that have been attributed to mod-
ularity do not derive from modularity per se. Rather, they require that there be an
"alignment" between the spaces of phenotypic variation, and the selection gradients
that are available to the organism. Modularity may facilitate such alignment, but it is


Source: Altenberg, Lee - Department of Information and Computer Science, University of Hawai'i at Manoa


Collections: Computer Technologies and Information Sciences