Practical & Philosophical Reflections
    on a Life in Genetic Algorithms

    David E. Goldberg
    Illinois Genetic Algo...
Reflections on a Life in GAs
• 29th year in GAs; 26th year
  since dissertation. 20th year
  since GASOML (aside).
• Have ...
Roadmap
 What’s a nice civil engineer doing in a
  place like this?
 A cocktail party in Canterbury.
 One September in ...
Once Upon a Time…
• Once upon a time…
    – There was a civil engineer
    – working for Stoner Associates
    – doing hyd...
A Cocktail Party in Canterbury

• At the opening reception.
• My advisor walks in…
• Like the parting of the Red
  Sea.
• ...
One Fine September Day in A2
• First day of classes and was signed up for standard AI
  course.
• Expert systems were the ...
A Professor Named Holland
• Youngish looking prof:
   – Talking about biology &
      genetics.
   – Samuel’s checker play...
Education of a Genetic Algorithmist

• 1984 took position in Engineering Mechanics
  at Alabama, Tuscaloosa.
• Education b...
Lesson 1: Learning to Ask

• In 1984 had many questions
  about how GAs work, when they
  fail?
• Wasn’t experienced in as...
What’s a Good Question?
• Socrates asked variety of questions.
• What is truth? What is courage?
• More often the critic. ...
Lesson 2: Learning to Label
 • In the early days, language was
   nonexistent or unsettled.
 • Challenge of being category...
Terms Really Do Matter
• Terms gather thoughts
  under consistent rubrics.
• Can be part of larger
  taxonomy.
• Defines a...
Lesson 3: Learning to Decompose
• Wasn’t experienced at
  decomposing big problem into
  little problems.
• Looked for mag...
Design Decomposition for GA Design
• ICGA 1991: Shared “theory” tutorial
  with GunarLiepins.
• Need design theory that wo...
Lesson 4: Learning to Model
 Knew quite a bit about modeling
  mathematically.
 Engineers as Pavloviandogs when it
  com...
A Model of Models


                    Engineer/Inventor

     Error, ε




                                            S...
What is a “Model?”


      Low Cost/                                                       High Cost/
      High Error    ...
Marginal Analysis
• When should engineer/inventor adopt more
  expensive model?
• At the margins, when ΔB ≥ ΔC.
• Marginal...
Demarcation of Engineering Knowledge
•    Realized that I was on philosophical
     grounds, a demarcation argument.
•    ...
My Philosophical Turn
• Have turned to philosophy for personal & professional reasons.
   – Started Engineering and Techno...
Conceptual Modeling at ShareThis
• Was asked to join team of
  ShareThis (then Nextumi) in
  2004.
• Create consumer
  chr...
Some Philosophical Reflections

• The existential pleasures of engineering.
• Kuhn, paradigms, and all that.
• Is GEC stuc...
Existential Pleasures of Engineering
• Slide title taken from book by Samuel
  Florman.
• Making cool technology is fun.
•...
Kuhn, Paradigms & All That
• My cocktail party started with me stuck
  in a “cost effectiveness” mindset.
• “Paradigm” tra...
Is GEC Locked in a Paradigm?
• What habits of thought productive early in GEC are
  counterproductive now?
   – Continued ...
Are Engineering & CS Ed Stuck in Paradigm?

• Paradigm of tech academy is from the cold war.
• Following assumptions sacro...
The Missing Basics
• Have taught 19 years in industrially sponsored senior
  design course.
• After 4 years students don’t...
The Missing Basics as Rosetta Stone
• Missing basics key to
   – Engineering and CS ed reform
   – Liberal ed reform
   – ...
An Academic NIMBY Problem
 NIMBY = Not in my
  backyard.
 “Reform is fine…”
 “….as long as you don’t
  change my course...
iFoundry: A Pilot Incubator for Change
•    Less planning more dot connecting.
•    iFoundry = Illinois Foundry for Innova...
A Life in Genetic Algorithms
Events                               Lessons?
• Bumped into GAs by                 • Importan...
Finding a Life’s Impedance Match
• What a contrarian!!
• Not suggesting that others should
  follow.
• Aristotle talked ab...
More Information
• Goldberg, D. E. (2002). The design of
  innovation: Lessons from and for competent
  genetic algorithms...
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Practical & Philosophical Reflections on a Life in Genetic Algorithms

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Dave Goldberg tells the story how he got into genetic algorithms and the various things he's learned along the way.

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  • Honor
  • Photo from “wanted” poster in 1986. Of course this meeting changed my life profoundly and I’m so blessed that it did.
  • When I first showed this to John his reaction was characteristic. Concerned that I not limit models in this way.
  • Tie together three things. Story telling, moving from qual to quant, many types of models, and uses models from different fields. May need hybrids of qual-quant models for given problem.
  • Practical & Philosophical Reflections on a Life in Genetic Algorithms

    1. 1. Practical & Philosophical Reflections on a Life in Genetic Algorithms David E. Goldberg Illinois Genetic Algorithms Laboratory University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Urbana, IL 61801 USA Email: deg@illinois.edu; Web: http://www.illigal.uiuc.edu 1 © David E. Goldberg 2009
    2. 2. Reflections on a Life in GAs • 29th year in GAs; 26th year since dissertation. 20th year since GASOML (aside). • Have been blessed to be part of growth of this field. • Could easily have been otherwise. • Almost every central turning point was unlikely event. • Want to reflect on those times personally, practically & philosophically. • Guidance for the young (amusement for old?). 2 © David E. Goldberg 2009
    3. 3. Roadmap  What’s a nice civil engineer doing in a place like this?  A cocktail party in Canterbury.  One September in Ann Arbor.  A professor named Holland.  The education of a genetic algorithmist.  My philosophical turn & starting a company.  Reflections on existentialism, paradigms, and the education of engineering and comptuer scientists.  Finding and life’s impedance match. 3 © David E. Goldberg 2009
    4. 4. Once Upon a Time… • Once upon a time… – There was a civil engineer – working for Stoner Associates – doing hydraulics software for pipelines. • Was starting to do real-time control & – wondered how human operators – controlled gas pipelines – like you or I drive a car. • Went to British Hydromechanics Research Association to represent company. 4 © David E. Goldberg 2009
    5. 5. A Cocktail Party in Canterbury • At the opening reception. • My advisor walks in… • Like the parting of the Red Sea. • Another prof asks WHEN will I return for PhD. • Not “cost effective.” • A phone call & a big night. E. Benjamin Wylie (b. 1928) 5 © David E. Goldberg 2009
    6. 6. One Fine September Day in A2 • First day of classes and was signed up for standard AI course. • Expert systems were the rage, Prolog was hip, LISP was cool. • Class was cancelled with little sign on the door. • Hopes and dreams down the drain. • Searched and searched for a replacement. • Found CCS 524, Intro to Adaptive Systems, taught by John Holland. 6 © David E. Goldberg 2009
    7. 7. A Professor Named Holland • Youngish looking prof: – Talking about biology & genetics. – Samuel’s checker player. – Schemas and building blocks. – Classifier systems. • What’s nice civil engineer doing in class like this? • When was Prof Holland going to get to real AI I could use for pipelines? • Or maybe this was the real AI. 7 © David E. Goldberg 2009
    8. 8. Education of a Genetic Algorithmist • 1984 took position in Engineering Mechanics at Alabama, Tuscaloosa. • Education began then, but there was a lot I needed to learn: • Focus on 4 core lessons: – Learning to ask – Learning to label – Learning to decompose – Learning to model 8 © David E. Goldberg 2009
    9. 9. Lesson 1: Learning to Ask • In 1984 had many questions about how GAs work, when they fail? • Wasn’t experienced in asking good framing questions. • Key problem: Using GAs to solve engineering problems, but GAs weren’t engineered well. • Philosophical terms: Socrates 101. Socrates (470-399 BCE) 9 © David E. Goldberg 2009
    10. 10. What’s a Good Question? • Socrates asked variety of questions. • What is truth? What is courage? • More often the critic. Rarely gave answers. • In creative enterprises, many good questions are framing questions: – Get at heart of the issue. – Help define the problem or elicit definition. – Sometimes cause problem to be represented in novel way or from unusual or creative perspective. • Fundamental importance of dialectic. Creative process of asking and answering questions. • GA example from 1985: Alleles, Loci & Traveling Salesman Problem. How is inversion for orderings, similar to and different from mutation & crossover for alleles? 10 © David E. Goldberg 2009
    11. 11. Lesson 2: Learning to Label • In the early days, language was nonexistent or unsettled. • Challenge of being category creator vs. category enhancer. • Tabula rasa or a green field. • Some borrowed from biology, “fitness,” “linkage” & “landscape.” • Others invented: “deception,” “niching,” “abeyance,” • Philosophical terms: Aristotle 101. • Underappreciated as means to understanding and solving problems. • GA example: Use of term “linkage learning” leads to practical schemes Aristotle (384-322 BCE) such as mGA, fmGA, LLGAs, and adaptive EDAs. 11 © David E. Goldberg 2009
    12. 12. Terms Really Do Matter • Terms gather thoughts under consistent rubrics. • Can be part of larger taxonomy. • Defines attention areas. • Can have influence on how others think. • Catchy or sticky terms propagate virally. 12 © David E. Goldberg 2009
    13. 13. Lesson 3: Learning to Decompose • Wasn’t experienced at decomposing big problem into little problems. • Looked for magic bullets in equations of motion or transform methods. • 1990 talk by Gary Bradshaw on the Wright Brothers and their explicit decomposition of powered flight. • Philosophical terms: Descartes René Descartes (1596-1650) 101? 13 © David E. Goldberg 2009
    14. 14. Design Decomposition for GA Design • ICGA 1991: Shared “theory” tutorial with GunarLiepins. • Need design theory that works: – Understand building blocks (BBs), notions or subideas. – Ensure BB supply. – Ensure BB growth. – Control BB speed. – Ensure good BB decisions. – Ensure good BB mixing (exchange). – Know BB challengers. • Will discuss more technically in tutorial tomorrow. 14 © David E. Goldberg 2009
    15. 15. Lesson 4: Learning to Model  Knew quite a bit about modeling mathematically.  Engineers as Pavloviandogs when it comes to equations.  Didn’t know how to model conceptually: ◦ Causal chain. ◦ Categorize according to list of types or kinds.  Need to understand problem qualitatively in words and diagrams prior to quantitative modeling undertaken.  Philosophical terms: Hume 101 or David Hume (1711-1776) Aristotle 102. 15 © David E. Goldberg 2009
    16. 16. A Model of Models Engineer/Inventor Error, ε Scientist/Mathematician Cost of Modeling, C 16 © David E. Goldberg 2009
    17. 17. What is a “Model?” Low Cost/ High Cost/ High Error Low Error Unarticulated Articulated Dimensional Facetwise Equations of Wisdom Qualitative Models Models Motion Model The Modeling Spectrum 17 © David E. Goldberg 2009
    18. 18. Marginal Analysis • When should engineer/inventor adopt more expensive model? • At the margins, when ΔB ≥ ΔC. • Marginal benefit of model to technology under development must equal or exceed its marginal cost. • To engineer/inventor, artifact is the object of study  models almost always instrumental. • To scientist/mathematician building a model – may be the object – or instrumental to some other goal (then engineer’s calculus applies). 18 © David E. Goldberg 2009
    19. 19. Demarcation of Engineering Knowledge • Realized that I was on philosophical grounds, a demarcation argument. • Realized that many practices in engineering and CS have proceeded without critical reflection. • Engineering and CS studied without definition. • Starts with misleading math-science death march. • Gives impression that engineering = analysis or “the basics” (math, science, engineering science). • Ontology, epistemology, reasoning ignored. • “Design” as abused term & mysterious process. 19 © David E. Goldberg 2009
    20. 20. My Philosophical Turn • Have turned to philosophy for personal & professional reasons. – Started Engineering and Technology Studies at Illinois or ETSI (with Michael Loui). – Co-chaired 2007 and 2008 Workshop on Philosophy & Engineering (WPE) at TUDelft and Royal Academy of Engineering. – Started engineering reflections track at Society for Philosophy & Engineering. – Co-Founded Illinois Foundry for Innovation in Engineering Education (2007, 2008). – Co-chaired Summit on the Engineer of the Future 2.0 at Olin College. • Turn had its roots in starting a company. 20 © David E. Goldberg 2009
    21. 21. Conceptual Modeling at ShareThis • Was asked to join team of ShareThis (then Nextumi) in 2004. • Create consumer chromosome inspired by GASOML. • Did tech work, but also worried a lot about modeling “creepiness.” • Models were conceptual. • Ray Price, tech visionary research & a course. • Design of Innovation, explored qual- quant divide. 21 © David E. Goldberg 2009
    22. 22. Some Philosophical Reflections • The existential pleasures of engineering. • Kuhn, paradigms, and all that. • Is GEC stuck in a paradigm or paradigms? • Is education of engineers and computer scientists stuck in paradigm? • With so many calls for educational change, how come we’re still stuck? 22 © David E. Goldberg 2009
    23. 23. Existential Pleasures of Engineering • Slide title taken from book by Samuel Florman. • Making cool technology is fun. • Existential philosophers: Life is lived. Dasein, beings in time in the process of being. • We choose. Things happen. We choose again. • Thought of careers as planned. Tracing my career path as example. • Not unlike genetic algorithms: Interesting mix of randomness and choice resulting in the solutions that become. Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) 23 © David E. Goldberg 2009
    24. 24. Kuhn, Paradigms & All That • My cocktail party started with me stuck in a “cost effectiveness” mindset. • “Paradigm” traces to The Structure of Scientific Revolutions in 1962. • Kuhn argued that science proceeds in fits and starts, not gradually. • Old paradigms, ways of thinking about the world, are overturned by revolutions, not gradually. • What ways are we all stuck in paradigms? • What ways is GEC community stuck in its paradigm? Thomas S. Kuhn (1922-1996) 24 © David E. Goldberg 2009
    25. 25. Is GEC Locked in a Paradigm? • What habits of thought productive early in GEC are counterproductive now? – Continued adherence to old religions (GA, ES, EP, GP). – Loose metaphorical operator design without any analysis? A vs. B comparisons with little basis. – Rigorous theory & no consideration of design implications? – Lack of progress in examining or contributing to understanding biological mechanism. • Oftentimes progress comes from new influences: What field or disciplines are we not collaborating with that would help make progress? • Interested in neuroscience, philosophy, GAs & consciousness. 25 © David E. Goldberg 2009
    26. 26. Are Engineering & CS Ed Stuck in Paradigm? • Paradigm of tech academy is from the cold war. • Following assumptions sacrosanct: – Basic engineering science key to success. – Government funds superior to industry $$$. – Demonstrate mettle as individuals with peer-reviewed journal papers in specialty. • Question any  stare, derision & ridicule. • These beliefs are not scientific. • Paradigm of 50s-present. • Code words: “the basics,” “rigorous,” & “soft.” • Invoking code words not an argument. 26 © David E. Goldberg 2009
    27. 27. The Missing Basics • Have taught 19 years in industrially sponsored senior design course. • After 4 years students don’t know how to – Question: Socrates 101. – Label: Aristotle 101. – Model conceptually: Hume 101 & Aristotle 102. – Decompose: Descartes 101. – Measure: Bacon-Locke 101. – Visualize/draw: da Vinci-Monge 101. – Communicate: Newman 101 • List starts as before in education of Gamist. • Call these the missing basics (MBs) vs. “the basics” = math, sci, & eng sci. • Missing basics are in some sense more basic than “the basics.” • Why does engineering education backfill these skills in practice? Socrates (470-399 BC) 27 © David E. Goldberg 2009
    28. 28. The Missing Basics as Rosetta Stone • Missing basics key to – Engineering and CS ed reform – Liberal ed reform – Interdisciplinary research – Lifelong learning • If math & science the center how do humanists and scientists talk? • Wrong turn at the Enlightenment. • Toulmin’s argument that geometry is not a good general epistemological model. 28 © David E. Goldberg 2009
    29. 29. An Academic NIMBY Problem  NIMBY = Not in my backyard.  “Reform is fine…”  “….as long as you don’t change my course.”  Politics of logrolling: You support my not changing. I support your not changing.  Even when agreement for change is acknowledged, almost all specific changes are resisted. 29 © David E. Goldberg 2009
    30. 30. iFoundry: A Pilot Incubator for Change • Less planning more dot connecting. • iFoundry = Illinois Foundry for Innovation in Engineering Education: – Separate pilot unit/incubator. Permit change. – Collaboration. Large, key ugrad programs work together. Easier approval if shared. – Connections. Hook to depts, NAE, ABET (?), industry. – Volunteers. Enthusiasm for change among participants. – Existing authority. Use signatory authority for modification of curricula for immediate pilot. – Respect faculty governance. Get pilot permission from the dept. and go back to faculty for vote after pilot change – Assessment. Built-in assessment to overcome objections back home. – Scalability. Past attempts at change like Olin fail to scale at UIUC and other big schools. 30 © David E. Goldberg 2009
    31. 31. A Life in Genetic Algorithms Events Lessons? • Bumped into GAs by • Important things can be accident. random. • Joined field at time of • Opportunity is knocking? Will growth. you answer the door? • Fluids training as disciplinary • Being appropriately different grounding in complexity. can be beneficial. • Wrote a book I was told not • Authority figures are not to write. necessarily right or wise. • Became philosophical in a • Exploring the unexplored can action-oriented field. yield interesting insights. • Took on reform effort not • Sometimes important jobs admired by peers. are not valued by others. 31 © David E. Goldberg 2009
    32. 32. Finding a Life’s Impedance Match • What a contrarian!! • Not suggesting that others should follow. • Aristotle talked about virtues leading to happiness or eudaimonia. • About fulfilling your potential. • New positive psychology takes up these ancient themes. • Been blessed to be able to do things I found to be interesting and important. • Hope you are blessed, too. 32 © David E. Goldberg 2009
    33. 33. More Information • Goldberg, D. E. (2002). The design of innovation: Lessons from and for competent genetic algorithms. Boston, MA: Kluwer Academic Publishers. • Lab:www.illigal.org • iFoundry:www.ifoundry.illinois.edu • Philosophical writing: http://philsci- archive.pitt.edu/ (search for “Goldberg”). • Powerpoint: www.slideshare.net/deg511 • YouTube: www.youtube.com/illinoisfoundry 33 © David E. Goldberg 2009

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