My Research

10 November 2004

Artificial Life means many things to many people. As yet, I am still finding my footing in this young but incredibly diverse field of research. Under the supervision of Dr. Barry McMullin, School of Electronic Engineering, DCU, and Dr. Darragh O'Brien, School of Computing, DCU, along with generous funding provided by both Schools as well as the EU funded Programmable Artificial Cell Evolution (PACE) project, I am pursuing a PhD in the field of Artificial Life.

As for the direction of my research, it's kind of difficult to call at this early stage. In their paper entitled "Open Problems in Artificial Life", published in the proceedings of the Seventh International Conference on Artificial Life, Bedau et al. listed 14 "Open Problems" in the area, much in the style of similar lists presented by mathmaticians to their respective fields. I am presently most interested in the second problem, that of achieving the transition to life in an artificial chemistry in silico. I will examine prior work on this topic, for example Tom Ray's Tierra, and explore the possibility of further work on such systems in an attempt to address the above open problem.


16 November 2004

Since it was first presented in A.K. Dewdney's Computer Recreations column in Scientific American in May 1984, CoreWar has aquired something of a cult following. Players, represented by programs they write, battle it out inside the core of a virtual computer. These warrior programs are written in an assembly language called RedCode. Likened in some respects to computer viruses, although they are harmless outside the core, they attempt to overwrite each other, or trick each other into executing illegal instructions. Some work has been carried out in trying to get these programs to evolve, but they are a long way off the types of evolution displayed by Ray's Tierra. Since they, and Tierra, use their own types of assembly language, and since it's been such a long time since I looked at an assembly language program, let alone wrote one, I've started analysing some of the simpler CoreWar warriors, hoping to reacquaint myself with assembly languages, addressing modes and the like, while getting a feel for the kinds of strategies they use. Check out my CoreWarrior analysis page (presently, constantly updated) to see what I've been up to.