Biology's Gift to a Complex World

How studying biological interactions and evolution yields techniques for predicting the outcome of complex interactions.

By John Holland

Article Extras

1 It broke new ground for aircraft turbine efficiency. In 1990, a Santa Fe, NM-based investment firm called The Prediction Company introduced a new strategy, the long-term success of which attracted the attention of some of the largest finance houses. The company was bought by Union Bank of Switzerland in 2005. In 2008, two researchers developed a more efficient way of finding defects in silicon microchips, saving tens of millions of dollars annually, and inserting more control into the process. These three breakthroughs, and many others besides, share a common foundation: The application of biology to complex engineering problems.

When I started working on the mathematical description of evolution called genetic algorithms, over 40 years ago, I hardly imagined the range of problems that...

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