Back in 1998, I was suggesting the use of evolutionary computation to investigate alternative hypotheses concerning data about foraging in a certain species of bat that preyed upon a particular species of insect. Nature has a summary of a paper in Astrophysics Journal where the researchers used a genetic algorithm to look in a space of over a quadrillion possible orbits for a spiral galaxy and a dwarf elliptical galaxy, and come up with an orbital scenario that closely matched the observed characteristics of the pair. This is a somewhat different application of evolutionary computation, essentially to identify better explanations for an observed state, rather than to produce an approximate solution to a problem given a specific set of conditions. I have no doubt that more of this style of application of evolutionary computation will be seen in the future.
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