Sharks, Zombies and Volleyball: Lessons from the Evolutionary Computation Bestiary

Felipe Campelo, Claus Aranha

Research output: Chapter in Book/Published conference outputConference publication


The field of optimization metaheuristics has a long history of
finding inspiration in natural systems. Starting from classic
methods such as Genetic Algorithms and Ant Colony Optimization, more recent methods claim to be inspired by natural
(and sometimes even supernatural) systems and phenomena -
from birds and barnacles to reincarnation and zombies. Since
2014 we publish a humorous website, The Bestiary of Evolutionary Computation, to catalog these methods, witnessing
an explosion of metaphor-heavy algorithms in the literature.
While metaphors can be powerful inspiration tools, we argue
that the emergence of hundreds of barely discernible algorithmic variants under different labels and nomenclatures has
been counterproductive to the scientific progress of the field,
as it neither improves our ability to understand and simulate
biological systems, nor contributes generalizable knowledge
or design principles for global optimization approaches. In
this short paper we discuss some of the possible causes of this
trend, its negative consequences to the field, as well as some
efforts aimed at moving the area of metaheuristics towards a
better balance between inspiration and scientific soundness.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the LIFELIKE Computing Systems Workshop 2021
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 13 Nov 2021
EventLIFELIKE Computing Systems Workshop 2021 -
Duration: 19 Jul 202119 Jul 2021

Publication series

NameCEUR Workshop Proceedings
ISSN (Print)1613-0073


WorkshopLIFELIKE Computing Systems Workshop 2021

Bibliographical note

Copyright ©2021 for this paper by its authors. Use permitted under Creative Commons License Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)


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