Introduction to Evolutionary Informatics

Introduction to Evolutionary Informatics, by Robert J. Marks II, the “Charles Darwin of Intelligent Design”; William A. Dembski, the “Isaac Newton of Information Theory”; and Winston Ewert, the “Charles Ingram of Active Information.” World Scientific, 332 pages.
Classification: Engineering mathematics. Engineering analysis. (TA347)
Subjects: Evolutionary computation. Information technology–Mathematics.1

Yes, Tom English was right to warn us not to buy the book until the authors establish that their mathematical analysis of search applies to models of evolution.

But some of us have bought (or borrowed) the book nevertheless. As Denyse O’Leary said: It is surprisingly easy to read. I suppose she is right, as long as you do not try to follow their conclusions, but accept it as Gospel truth.

In the thread Who thinks Introduction to Evolutionary Informatics should be on your summer reading list? at Uncommon Descent, there is a list of endorsements – and I have to wonder if everyone who endorsed the book actually read it. “Rigorous and humorous”? Really?

Dembski, Marks, and Ewert will never explain how their work applies to models of evolution. But why not create at list of things which are problematic (or at least strange) with the book itself? Here is a start (partly copied from UD):

  1. It is not a textbook, it is a tract: The authors expect their readers to know important verses of the Bible by heart (“Secondly we believe a la Romans 1:20 and like verses that the implications of this work in the apologetics of perception of meaning are profound”), but that they have not heard of the most common technical terms (“JPG: pronounced JAY-peg”). The maths is used not to enlighten, but to impress: it is not just preaching to the choir, it’s preaching to the choir in Latin.
  2. The nature of this book allows the authors to skip over all the problems of their ideas and omit difficult definitions: while they talk about “searches” for dozens and dozens of pages, they never define what a “search” is.
    One of the most problematic sentences is on page 173: “We note, however, the choice of an [search] algorithm along with its parameters and initialization imposes a probability distribution over the search space”.
    Does it really? They authors have tried to show this in a couple of ways in various papers, and each of their approaches seemed to be ridden with further problems. So, they just side-step this crucial bit of their theory.
  3. The conclusion for the section on proportion betting seems to be wrong (Section 4.1.2.2.12 “†Loaded Die and Proportional Betting”.) The authors claim:

    The performance of proportional betting is akin to that of a search algorithm. For proportional betting, you want to extract the maximum amount of money from the game in a single bet. In search, you wish to extract the maximum amount of information in a single query. The mathematics is identical.

    But if there are two fields of equal size, and I lost my keys in the first one with probability 2/3, in the second one with probability 1/3, it makes sense to search the whole of the first field, and only afterwards the second one. On average, it takes longer to switch between the fields with probabilities 2/3 and 1/3, respectively (even if switching does not take any time) – that’s because the doubling rate parameter does not apply to this problem.


1. Thanks, Tom!
2. No, I didn’t make that up.

111 thoughts on “Introduction to Evolutionary Informatics”

  1. DiEbDiEb Post author

    Mung:
    Agent-Based Evolutionary Search

    So? I assume that you wish to strengthen your point made in a earlier comment:

    Evolutionary search is a special case of multiple agent search

    Unfortunately, your new source says something quite different:

    As an approach, an agent or multi-agent system is quite different from an evolutionary system or computation

    That’s the opposite of DEM’s statement!

  2. MungMung

    DiEb: Unfortunately, your new source says something quite different:

    I guess that’s why you gave us only a partial quote. 🙂

  3. DiEbDiEb Post author

    Mung: I guess that’s why you gave us only a partial quote.

    If you think a fuller quotation is needed, please, feel free to provide it!

  4. MungMung

    DiEb: If you think a fuller quotation is needed, please, feel free to provide it!

    The agents are usually recognized as intelligent agents.

  5. MungMung

    DiEb: I’ve to apologize: I took your comment seriously. I realized too late that you just just trolled Tom and me.

    Multi-Agent Search is real, and it is in fact associated with evolutionary computing.

    DEM didn’t make it up.

    I don’t consider point out that fact to be trolling.

  6. DiEbDiEb Post author

    Mung: Multi-Agent Search is real, and it is in fact associated with evolutionary computing.

    The claim is not that multiple agent search does not exist, but that the term is not used widely – and that it is not used by David Fogel.

    Mung: DEM didn’t make it up.

    They did not invent the term, but insinuated that David Fogel used it in his book to describe evolutionary search in his book “Evolutionary Computation: Toward a New Philosophy of Machine Intelligence”. That seems not to be the case.

    Mung: I don’t consider point out that fact to be trolling.

    1. Your “fact” was just a diversion with no relevance for the topic under discussion.

    2. Tom and I talked about the atrocious habit of just giving a whole book as your reference and to not give the exact quote or at least page number. You did exactly that.

    I consider this trolling.

  7. Tom EnglishTom English

    DiEb,

    Gee, I’d forgotten about the time when I simply contacted the author of a book, and asked whether he’d written what Marks, Dembski, and Ewert (perhaps also Montañez) had indicated he’d written. The answer was, of course, NO.

  8. DiEbDiEb Post author

    Tom English:
    DiEb,

    Gee, I’d forgotten about the time when I simply contacted the author of a book, and asked whether he’d written what Marks, Dembski, and Ewert (perhaps also Montañez) had indicated he’d written. The answer was, of course, NO.

    That just shows that Marks, Dembski, et.al., have a deeper understanding of the book than the author himself! It must be hard for them to stay humble…

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