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Epigenetic programming: an approach of embedding epigenetic learning via modification of histones in genetic programming

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2 Author(s)
Tanev, I. ; ATR Human Inf. Sci. Labs., Kyoto, Japan ; Yuta, K.

Extending the notion of inheritable genotype in genetic programming (GP) from the common model of DNA into chromatin (DNA and histones), we propose epigenetic programming as an approach, embedding an explicitly controlled gene expression via modification of histones in GP. We propose double cell representation of the simulated individuals, comprising somatic cell and germ cell, both represented by their respective chromatin structures. Following biologically plausible concepts, we regard the plastic phenotype of the somatic cell, achieved via controlled gene expression owing to modifications to histones (epigenetic learning, EL) as relevant for fitness evaluation, while the genotype of the germ cell - to the phylogenesis of the individuals. The approach is verified on evolution of social behavior of team of predator agents in predator-prey pursuit problem. The empirically obtained performance evaluation results indicate that EL contributes to more than 2-fold improvement of computational effort of the phylogenesis via GP. We view the cause for that in the cumulative effect of polyphenism and epigenetic stability. The former allows for phenotypic diversity of genotypically similar individuals, while the latter robustly preserves the individuals from the destructive effects of crossover by silencing of certain genotypic combinations and explicitly activating them only when they are most likely to be expressed in corresponding beneficial phenotypic traits.

Published in:

Evolutionary Computation, 2003. CEC '03. The 2003 Congress on  (Volume:4 )

Date of Conference:

8-12 Dec. 2003