Abstract: Neuroevolution, i.e. evolution of artificial neural networks, has recently emerged as a powerful technique for solving challenging reinforcement learning problems. Compared to traditional (e.g. value-function based) methods, neuroevolution is especially strong in domains where the state of the world is not fully known: The state can be disambiguated through recurrency, and novel situations handled through pattern matching. In this tutorial, I will review (1) neuroevolution methods that evolve fixed-topology networks, network topologies, and network construction processes, (2) ways of combining traditional neural network learning algorithms with evolutionary methods, and (3) applications of neuroevolution to creating intelligent agents in games.
Risto Miikkulainen is a Professor of Computer Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin. He received an M.S. in Engineering from the Helsinki University of Technology, Finland, in 1986, and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from UCLA in 1990. His recent research focuses on methods for evolving neural networks and applying these methods to game playing, robotics, and intelligent control. He is an author of over 350 articles on neuroevolution, connectionist natural language processing, and the computational neuroscience of the visual cortex. He is an associate editor of IEEE Transactions on Computational Intelligence and AI in Games and Cognitive Systems Research, and a member of the Board of Governors of the International Neural Networks Society.