Seminar: Artificial Chemistry-Based Cell Replication Subjected to Evolution

Aaron A. Curtis
Honours Thesis Project
Supervisor: Dr. Wolfgang Banzhaf

Artificial Chemistry-Based Cell Replication Subjected to Evolution

Department of Computer Science
Monday, December 16, 1:00 p.m., Room EN-2022


Artificial Chemistries are a simple simulation tools used to examine complex phenomena. In this honours project, I used Tim Hutton's artificial chemistry, Squirm3, which may be implemented in a discrete, lattice-based plane, similar to a cellular automaton. While this artificial chemistry is simple (it is comprised of six types of atoms, with mutable states, and a set of reactions which may form or break bonds between these atoms and alter their states), it has been shown that replicator molecules can be created within it, and that evolution may occur to alter generations of these replicators over time. Modifications to this chemistry have allowed for the creation of “enzymes”, making the replicator molecule function as a genome, and "cell membranes" which replicate as part of the replicator molecule and protect the replicator molecule and its enzymes. In current implementations of cell replication in Squirm3, however, cell replication reactions are hard-coded
into the chemistry of the system. The aim of this project was to code part of the cell replication process in the form of enzymes in a cell's genome, and then have the process of replication be subject to evolution. This has the potential to lead to novel cell replication processes.