Natural computing

January 3, 1997

Three strands of research have united Edinburgh's informatics planning unit - logic, language and "natural computing".

Natural computing, a term coined for ideas of computing based on biological metaphors, has made for strong interdisciplinary links and has thrown up ideas that have important practical applications.

Peter Ross, head of the department of artificial intelligence, has aroused interest among businesses with his use of "genetic algorithms".

His project investigates how genetic algorithms can be used for scheduling and timetabling. The "evolutionary" method works by computer - generating random "solutions" to a complex timetabling problem. The program then selects answers according to their quality and "breeds" them until an answer is produced.

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