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ref: work-0 tags: distilling free-form natural laws from experimental data Schmidt Cornell automatic programming genetic algorithms date: 09-14-2018 01:34 gmt revision:5 [4] [3] [2] [1] [0] [head]

Distilling free-form natural laws from experimental data

  • There critical step was to use partial derivatives to evaluate the search for invariants. Even yet, with a 4D data set the search for natural laws took ~ 30 hours.
    • Then again, how long did it take humans to figure out these invariants? (Went about it in a decidedly different way..)
    • Further, how long did it take for biology to discover similar invariants?
      • They claim elsewhere that the same algorithm has been applied to biological data - a metabolic pathway - with some success.
      • Of course evolution had to explore a much larger space - proteins and reculatory pathways, not simpler mathematical expressions / linkages.

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ref: work-0 tags: machine learning reinforcement genetic algorithms date: 10-26-2009 04:49 gmt revision:1 [0] [head]

I just had dinner with Jesse, and the we had a good/productive discussion/brainstorm about algorithms, learning, and neurobio. Two things worth repeating, one simpler than the other:

1. Gradient descent / Newton-Rhapson like techniques should be tried with genetic algorithms. As of my current understanding, genetic algorithms perform an semi-directed search, randomly exploring the space of solutions with natural selection exerting a pressure to improve. What if you took the partial derivative of each of the organism's genes, and used that to direct mutation, rather than random selection of the mutated element? What if you looked before mating and crossover? Seems like this would speed up the algorithm greatly (though it might get it stuck in local minima, too). Not sure if this has been done before - if it has, edit this to indicate where!

2. Most supervised machine learning algorithms seem to rely on one single, externally applied objective function which they then attempt to optimize. (Rather this is what convex programming is. Unsupervised learning of course exists, like PCA, ICA, and other means of learning correlative structure) There are a great many ways to do optimization, but all are exactly that - optimization, search through a space for some set of weights / set of rules / decision tree that maximizes or minimizes an objective function. What Jesse and I have arrived at is that there is no real utility function in the world, (Corollary #1: life is not an optimization problem (**)) -- we generate these utility functions, just as we generate our own behavior. What would happen if an algorithm iteratively estimated, checked, cross-validated its utility function based on the small rewards actually found in the world / its synthetic environment? Would we get generative behavior greater than the complexity of the inputs? (Jesse and I also had an in-depth talk about information generation / destruction in non-linear systems.)

Put another way, perhaps part of learning is to structure internal valuation / utility functions to set up reinforcement learning problems where the reinforcement signal comes according to satisfaction of sub-goals (= local utility functions). Or, the gradient signal comes by evaluating partial derivatives of actions wrt Creating these goals is natural but not always easy, which is why one reason (of very many!) sports are so great - the utility function is clean, external, and immutable. The recursive, introspective creation of valuation / utility functions is what drives a lot of my internal monologues, mixed with a hefty dose of taking partial derivatives (see {780}) based on models of the world. (Stated this way, they seem so similar that perhaps they are the same thing?)

To my limited knowledge, there has been some work as of recent in the creation of sub-goals in reinforcement learning. One paper I read used a system to look for states that had a high ratio of ultimately rewarded paths to unrewarded paths, and selected these as subgoals (e.g. rewarded the agent when this state was reached.) I'm not talking about these sorts of sub-goals. In these systems, there is an ultimate goal that the researcher wants the agent to achieve, and it is the algorithm's (or s') task to make a policy for generating/selecting behavior. Rather, I'm interested in even more unstructured tasks - make a utility function, and a behavioral policy, based on small continuous (possibly irrelevant?) rewards in the environment.

Why would I want to do this? The pet project I have in mind is a 'cognitive' PCB part placement / layout / routing algorithm to add to my pet project, kicadocaml, to finally get some people to use it (the attention economy :-) In the course of thinking about how to do this, I've realized that a substantial problem is simply determining what board layouts are good, and what are not. I have a rough aesthetic idea + some heuristics that I learned from my dad + some heuristics I've learned through practice of what is good layout and what is not - but, how to code these up? And what if these aren't the best rules, anyway? If i just code up the rules I've internalized as utility functions, then the board layout will be pretty much as I do it - boring!

Well, I've stated my sub-goal in the form of a problem statement and some criteria to meet. Now, to go and search for a decent solution to it. (Have to keep this blog m8ta!) (Or, realistically, to go back and see if the problem statement is sensible).

(**) Corollary #2 - There is no god. nod, Dawkins.