Ninth International Conference on the Simulation and Synthesis of Living Systems (ALIFE9)

Boston, Massachusetts

September 12-15th 2004

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Program Committee
Keynote Speakers


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Artwork by Dr. Cliff Pickover used by permission





Alife 9 tutorial

Part I: Introduction to Random Boolean Networks
Carlos Gershenson
Centrum Leo Apostel, Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Krijgskundestraat 33, Brussels, 1160, Belgium


Part II: Studying discrete dynamical networks with DDLab
Andrew Wuensche
UWE and Sussex University
andyw @


PART I: This will be a short tutorial to the artificial life community to promote interest in the study of Random Boolean Networks (RBNs), a class of discrete dynamical network. These can be very interesting tools, since one does not have to assume any functionality or particular connectivity of the networks in order to study their generic properties. Like this, RBNs have been used for exploring the configurations where life could emerge. The fact that RBNs are a generalization of cellular automata makes their research a very important topic for artificial life.

PART II: An introduction to Discrete Dynamics Lab (DDLab), an interactive graphical software tool for studying cellular automata, random Boolean networks, or any intermediate hybrid including scale-free networks, or networks of subnetworks. There will be concrete illustrations of many of the themes introduced in the first part of this tutorial.

Part I Outline
Introduction to RBNs, Carlos Gershenson

The intention of Part I of the tutorial is  to present the state of the art in RBNs, spanning over several lines of research carried out by different groups. This will last  two hours, with the following  outline:
Classical model (Kauffman, 1969; 1993), genetic regulatory networks
    -Transitions between order and chaos (Derrida and Pomeau, 1986)
    -Explorations (Wuensche, 1997; Aldana et al., 2003)
    - Multi-valued networks (Solé. Luque, and Kauffman, 2000)
    - Topologies (Oosawa and Savageau, 2002; Aldana, 2003)
    - RBN control (Ballesteros and Luque, 2002)

 ALife criticisms:
" Asynchronous RBNs (Harvey and Bossomaier, 1997)
" Rhythmic Asynchronous RBNs (Di Paolo, 2001; Rholfshagen and Di Paolo, 2004)
" Deterministic Asynchronous RBNs (Gershenson, 2002)
" Mixed-context RBNs (Gershenson, Broekaert and Aerts, 2003)

Different updating schemes
" classification (Gershenson, 2002)
" statistics
    - attractors
    - percentage of states in attractors
" complexity reduction (Gershenson, 2004)
" phase transitions (order-chaos) (Mesot and Teuscher, 2003; Gershenson, submitted)

Future lines of research



Part II Outline

DDLab, Andrew Wuensche

Discrete Dynamics Lab is interactive graphical software for studying cellular automata, random Boolean networks, or any intermediate hybrid including scale-free networks, or networks of subnetworks. Nodes change their value according to inputs from other nodes in the network according to Boolean or multi-value logic (up to 8 values/colors). Networks can be easily created, visualized and amended. DDLab then studies the dynamics ON the network: space-time patterns (in 1d, 2d and 3d) and basins of attraction.

I will show how to operate DDLab in a live, interactive tutorial, and describe various ideas, methods and results, including: categorization (memory) in basins of attraction and subtrees, the consequences of mutations/perturbations, and for CA in particular: order-complexity-chaos measures and parameters, the automatic classification of rule-space by input-entropy, encryption, the emergence of gliders, self-reproduction by collisions, and filtering the gliders' background. DDLab runs in Linux, Unix, Mac, Irix and DOS.  For more information see .