Keynotes:

Kate Smith-Miles
ARC Laureate Fellow
School of Mathematical Sciences
Monash University
Melbourne, Australia
http://users.monash.edu.au/
~ksmiles/


 

Visualising the diversity of benchmark instances and generating new test instances to elicit insights into algorithm performance

Abstract:
Objective assessment of optimization algorithm performance is notoriously difficult, with conclusions often inadvertently biased towards the chosen test instances. Rather than reporting average performance of algorithms across a set of chosen instances, we discuss a new methodology to enable the strengths and weaknesses of different optimization algorithms to be compared across a broader instance space. Results will be presented on various combinatorial and continuous optimization problems to demonstrate: (i) how pockets of the instance space can be found where algorithm performance varies significantly from the average performance of an algorithm; (ii) how the properties of the instances can be used to predict algorithm performance on previously unseen instances with high accuracy; (iii) how the relative strengths and weaknesses of each algorithm can be visualized and measured objectively; and (iv) how new test instances can be generated to fill the instance space and provide desired insights into algorithmic power.

Biosketch:

Kate Smith-Miles is a Professor in the School of Mathematical Sciences at Monash University in Australia, where she was Head of School from 2009-2014. She currently holds a Laureate Fellowship from the Australian Research Council (2014-2019) to conduct research into new methodologies to gain insights into algorithm strengths and weaknesses. She is also the inaugural Director of MAXIMA (the Monash Academy for Cross & Interdisciplinary Mathematical Applications). Kate obtained a B.Sc.(Hons) in Mathematics and a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering, both from the University of Melbourne, Australia. She has published 2 books on neural networks and data mining applications, and over 230 refereed journal and international conference papers in the areas of neural networks, combinatorial optimization, intelligent systems and data mining. She has supervised to completion 22 PhD students, and has been awarded over AUD$12 million in competitive grants, including 11 Australian Research Council grants and industry awards. From 2007-2008 she was Chair of the IEEE Technical Committee on Data Mining (IEEE Computational Intelligence Society). She was elected Fellow of the Institute of Engineers Australia (FIEAust) in 2006, and Fellow of the Australian Mathematical Society (FAustMS) in 2008. She was awarded the Australian Mathematical Society Medal in 2010 for distinguished research. In addition to her academic activities, she also regularly acts as a consultant to industry in the areas of optimisation, data mining, and intelligent systems.

 

Ricard Solé
ICREA research professor
(Catalan Institute for research and Advanced Studies)
Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Barcelona, Spain

 

Re-designing nature with synthetic biology: from artificial ants and tissues to a new biosphere

Abstract:
As we enter the 21-st century, our potential to engineer biological systems is becoming a reality. The new field of synthetic biology, along with regenerative medicine and bioengineering approaches allows us to modify extant organisms while we avoid evolutionary constraints. Synthetic tissues and organs, but also new classes of tissues and even organoids have been created in the wet lab, and new forms of behaviour have been implemented using microbial life forms. Synthetic multicellular life forms, synthetic swarms and biological computers are examples of this emergent field. We will review the state of the art of the area but also explore the boundaries and potential future scenarios. These involve novel, non-standard ways of processing information and performing computations in living systems but also the possibility of using synthetic biology as an alternative path to approach climate change and its consequences. In the future, to survive might require to re-design nature from ourselves to the planet.

Biosketch:

Ricard Solé is ICREA research professor (the Catalan Institute for research and Advanced Studies) currently working at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, where he leads the Complex Systems Lab located at the PRBB. He completed two full degrees in both Physics and Biology at the University of Barcelona and received his PhD in Physics at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia with a thesis on spatiotemporal chaos and criticality in evolutionary ecology. He was founding member of the NASA-associated Astrobiology Centre on Madrid and is currently External Professor of the Santa Fe Institute (New Mexico, USA) as well as external faculty of the Center for Evolution and Cancer at UCSF. He is also on the editorial board of Biology Direct and PLoS ONE. He has been awarded with many EU grants and a James McDonnell Foundation Award and received a European Research Council Advanced Grant (ERC 2012). He has published more than 200 papers in peer reviewed journals and his results have been featured in techical and general publications and books. His main research interests involve the search for universal patterns of organization in complex systems, including prebiotic replicators, cancer, multicellularity, viruses, evodevo, protocells or language to evolved artificial objects and historical dynamics. He explores these issues using both theoretical and experimental approximations based on synthetic biology. 

 

Manuel Martín-Loeches
Psychobiology Professor, Complutense University of Madrid, Spain.
Center for Human Evolution and Behavior, ISCIII-UCM, Madrid, Spain.

 

Origins and evolution of human language: saltation or gradualism?

Abstract:
In the neurosciences and psycholinguistics, there are two basic views on the origin and evolution of human language. One view posits that human language in its present form emerged around 100.000 years or less in our species, as a consequence of a single gene mutation. These models view language as composed by a number of elements shared with other species and therefore not exclusively human, and one single, human-specific feature: recursion, a grammatical or syntactic property by virtue of which sentences can be nested within other sentences, in a –hypothetically- unlimited fashion. The alternative perspective considers, in turn, that more than one single feature of the human language exhibits human-specific traits. Among others, the particular typology of the human symbols, the large amount of these that a human brain is able to store, or the physiological adaptations for speech articulation. Further, recursion might not be a necessary or universal feature of human language. This gradualist perspective proposes a number of possible steps and acquisitions that would have occurred along the human lineage, by virtue of which human language, as we used it today, is the outcome of gradual, successive stages, implying therefore multiple mutations. We will review here pros- and cons- of these views, as well as how a gradualist acquisition of human language might have occurred, probably starting much earlier than the appearance of H. sapiens some 200.000 years ago.

Biosketch:

Manuel Martín-Loeches is full professor at the Complutense University, Madrid, where he teaches on the neuroscientific basis of human behavior and language. He is also in charge of the Cognitive Neuroscience Section at the Center for Human Evolution and Behavior (ISCIII-UCM, Madrid, Spain) where he is leading a number of projects devoted to better understand the neural basis of human-specific behavior and cognition, such as language (syntax and semantics), religion, or art (neuroesthetics). Other areas of research in neuroscience in which he has participated, or keeps participating, include thought disorder in schizophrenia, working memory, visual attention, the relationships between brain shape and cognition, or the interactions between emotions and cognition. He has co-authored more than 100 scientific articles and 90 congress presentations, also regularly participating in courses and conferences on neuroscience and cognition, as well as in several newspapers, radio and TV programs, popularizing neuroscience knowledge and perspectives to the general public. He is also the author of the book [in Spanish] Homo sapiens’ mind: the brain and the human mind (Aguilar, 2008), and co-author with Juan Luis Arsuaga of The indelible stamp: past, present and future of the human being (Debate, 2013).

 

 

 

 
 
Kate Smith-Miles
Ricard Solé
Manuel Martin-Loeches
   
           
 

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