René Doursat
 PhD, Habil.

Professor of Complex Systems & Deputy
   Head, Informatics Research Centre,
   School of Computing, Math & Digital Tech,
   Manchester Metropolitan University, UK

Research Affiliate, BioEmergences Lab,
   CNRS (USR3695), Gif s/Yvette, France

Steering Committee & Fmr. Director,
   Complex Systems Institute, Paris (ISC)

Officer (Secretary), Board of Directors,
   International Society for Artificial Life



Growing Adaptive

Springer 2014

Springer 2012

Peter Lang 2011
Edited Proceedings

Artificial Life
ALife'14, ECAL'15

MITPress 2014,2015
Evolution. Comp.
GECCO'12, '13

ACM 2012,2013
Artificial Life

MITPress 2011
Swarm Intell.

Springer 2010
IT Revolutions

Springer 2009

Home Page
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   • Evolution & Ecology
Activities, Grants
Education, Career

Evolution & Ecology  
Agent-based, genetic programming or grammar models of population dynamics combining the short and long time scales of individual interactions and evolution
In this section of my research, I have collaborated to various artificial life studies, which focused on the level of large populations of individuals and examined their collective evolution. Although there are no "morphogenetic engineering" concerns per se, individuals are still internally sophisticated, as they can contain a long genomic sequence, an intricate genetic program, or a set of generative (rewrite) rules giving rise to complex morphologies. More →
EVOSPACE – Evolutionary Dynamics and Speciation in Space  
A spatially explicit model of endogenous speciation in the absence of environmental constraints
A commonly held view in evolutionary biology is that speciation, i.e., the emergence of genetically distinct and reproductively incompatible subpopulations, is driven by the external environment. Guy Hoelzer, Rich Drewes and myself have developed a spatially explicit model of a biological population to study the emergence of spatial and temporal patterns of genetic diversity in the absence of such constraints.
Speciation is usually thought to be either caused by geographical boundaries ("allopatric" speciation from mountains, rivers, islands, etc.; Fig. a, left) or pre-existing environmental inhomogeneities ("parapatric" or "sympatric" speciation from unequal climate or resource distribution; Fig. a, right). More →
DIVPLANT – Emergent Diversity in Communities of Virtual Plants  
A model of spatial population dynamics combining L-systems, genetic expression, biologically inspired mutations, and open-ended evolution
This part of José David Fernández's PhD, which I co-directed with his main advisor Francisco Vico, examines the formation, evolution, and diversity dynamics of a community of virtual plants through a new individual-centered model at multiple scales: genetic, developmental, and physiological. It is an original attempt to combine development, evolution, and population dynamics (from multi-agent interactions) into one comprehensive, yet simple model.
Understanding the dynamics of biodiversity has become an important line of research in theoretical ecology and, in particular, conservation biology. However, studying the evolution of ecological communities under traditional modeling approaches based on differential calculus requires species' characteristics to be predefined, which limits the generality of the results. More →
HETCA – Long-Term Evolutionary Dynamics in Heterogeneous Cellular Automata  
Exploring a new class of cellular automata capable of longterm phenotypic dynamics, including a high level of variance and behavioral diversity.
In this original work by my MSc student David Medernach, co-supervised by Taras Kowaliw, we study open-ended evolution by analyzing heterogeneous cellular automata (HetCA). The model involves cells that have an "age", "decay", and "quiescence", a transition function based on genetic programming, and transfer between adjacent cells. These changes convert a CA system into a new kind of "ecosystem", where different genomes compete for existence.
A major motivation for work in artificial life is to create open-ended evolution, or systems in which novel artifacts are continuously produced. The best known example is Ray's Tierra world, where there is competition between replicating computer programs in a virtual machine. Later, another evolutionary system by Adami, called Avida, became popular and was extended in many directions. High-level systems exist as well, where agents execute complex predefined functions, such as eating or fighting in Yaeger's Polyworld. More →