PhD Studentship in Artificial Life
(To begin: October 1998)

Supervisor: Dr. Barry McMullin

31-Aug-1998: Applications are now closed for this studentship.

Boris Karloff and Colin Clive in James Whale's classic 
1931 _Frankenstein_; the two actors taking a break on
the set!

The Studentship

Applications are invited for a funded studentship to pursue postgraduate research leading to a PhD at the Artificial Life Laboratory within the School of Electronic Engineering in Dublin City University . The studentship provides a modest subsistence allowance, and also covers the University fees (at the level applicable to EU citizens).

The Project

Artificial Life or ALife is a newly emerging discipline concerned with the study of biological complexity through synthesis--literally realising biological phenomena in artificial media.

The DCU ALife Lab is particularly concerned with the engineering of so-called autonomous systems--systems capable of maintaining their integrity and organisation in the face of diverse perturbations from a hostile environment. Living organisms are, or course, archetypal autonomous systems in this sense. This research will be concerned with investigating the fundamental problems of developing artificial systems which exhibit some degree of autonomy in this same, biological, sense.

Unlike any conventionally engineered machine or robot, such systems would define and maintain their own identity, even through automatic turnover, repair, or replacement of their components.

Two primary theoretical structures in this field are von Neumann's General and Logical Theory of Automata, which establishes some minimal, necessary, conditions for the spontaneous Darwinian growth of machine or automaton complexity, and the concept of Autopoiesis--literally ``self-producing'', or autonomous, systems--formulated by Varela and Maturana. Both of these theories have been independently investigated within the framework of cellular automata--massively parallel computational systems, which allow the establishment, in effect, of an artificial, simulated, ``universe''. The problem to be tackled now, however, is to marry these two theoretical developments to exhibit an artificial system (cellular automaton or otherwise) in which can be embedded automata which satisfy von Neumann's minimal conditions for the growth of complexity and are also robust or autonomous in the sense of Autopoiesis.

Gene Wilder and Peter Boyle in Mel Brooks' 1974 
comedy/parody _Young Frankenstein_

The Candidate

Candidates wishing to pursue Ph.D. research in this area should be interested and motivated by the fundamental problems of synthesising artificial systems of comparable complexity to real biological organisms. In your primary degree you should have already demonstrated excellence in a cognate scientific discipline, such as Engineering, Computer Science, or Biological Science. Preferably, you should have a solid grounding in systems- and software-engineering. Experience in object oriented software development, particularly in an X-Window environment, would be a further advantage, but is not essential. Finally, candidates must have excellent English language proficiency.


Applications are now closed for this studentship.


This studentship has been made possible through generous support from the DCU Research Committe and the School of Electronic Engineering.

The photographs on this page are linked from the Resources for the Study of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, maintained by Martin Irvine of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Georgetown University.

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Datestamp: 8/31/1998