Phillip Verbancsics and Kenneth O. Stanley (2011)
Constraining Connectivity to Encourage Modularity in HyperNEAT
In: Proceedings of the Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference (GECCO-2011). New York, NY:ACM (8 pages)
A challenging goal of generative and developmental systems (GDS) is to effectively evolve neural networks as complex and capable as those found in nature. Two key properties of neural structures in nature are regularity and modularity. While HyperNEAT has proven capable of generating neural network connectivity patterns with regularities, its ability to evolve modularity remains in question. This paper investigates how altering the traditional approach to determining whether connections are expressed in HyperNEAT influences modularity. In particular, an extension is introduced called a Link Expression Output (HyperNEAT-LEO) that allows HyperNEAT to evolve the pattern of weights independently from the pattern of connection expression. Because HyperNEAT evolves such patterns as functions of geometry, important general topographic principles for organizing connectivity can be seeded into the initial population. For example, a key topographic concept in nature that encourages modularity is locality, that is, components of a module are located near each other. As experiments in this paper show, by seeding HyperNEAT with a bias towards local connectivity implemented through the LEO, modular structures arise naturally. Thus this paper provides an important clue to how an indirect encoding of network structure can be encouraged to evolve modularity.