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2009-2010 Colloquium Series: Randall D. Beer

 CSE 2009-2010 Colloquium Series


Title: Evolution and Analysis of Minimally-Cognitive Behavior in Model Agents

Dr. Randall D. Beer

Cognitive Science Program

School of Informatics and Computing

Indiana University

Date:  April 9, 2010

Time: 11:00 am

Location:  3105 Egr (CSE conference room)

Hosts: Philip K. McKinley


Interest in a situated, embodied, and dynamical perspective on behavior and cognition is steadily growing.  However, the conceptual foundations of this approach, as well as the theoretical tools necessary to understand the resulting brain-body-environment systems, are in their infancy. For this reason, we have been exploring the evolution and analysis of model agents exhibiting minimally cognitive behavior.  In this talk, I will briefly describe a series of experiments on the evolution of visually-guided behavior, including orientation, catching,  perception of passability, object categorization, relational categorization, short-term memory, and selective attention. Then I will describe in more detail recent work on the evolution of relational communication. Our model is loosely based on the waggle dance of honey bees, through which a returning forager bee communicates the direction and distance to a resource to its hive mates. Finally, if time permits, I will also provide a brief overview of our efforts to understand the model brain-body-environment systems that we evolve using the tools of dynamical systems theory.


Randall D. Beer is a professor of cognitive science, computer science, and informatics at Indiana University. He was previously at Case Western Reserve University and received his PhD there in 1989. His primary research interest is in understanding how coordinated behavior arises from the neurodynamics of an animal's nervous system, its body and its environment. He works on the evolution and analysis of dynamical "nervous systems" for model agents, neuromechanical modeling of animals, biomorphic robotics, and dynamical systems approaches to behavior and cognition. More generally, he is interested in computational and theoretical biology, including models of metabolism, gene regulation and development. He also has a longstanding interest in the design and implementation of dynamic programming languages and their environments.