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PLoS One. 2016 Jul 13;11(7):e0158627. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0158627. eCollection 2016.

Robustness to Faults Promotes Evolvability: Insights from Evolving Digital Circuits.

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Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies, National Research Council (CNR), Roma, Italia.
Center for Robotics and Neural Systems, Plymouth University, Plymouth, United Kingdom.


We demonstrate how the need to cope with operational faults enables evolving circuits to find more fit solutions. The analysis of the results obtained in different experimental conditions indicates that, in absence of faults, evolution tends to select circuits that are small and have low phenotypic variability and evolvability. The need to face operation faults, instead, drives evolution toward the selection of larger circuits that are truly robust with respect to genetic variations and that have a greater level of phenotypic variability and evolvability. Overall our results indicate that the need to cope with operation faults leads to the selection of circuits that have a greater probability to generate better circuits as a result of genetic variation with respect to a control condition in which circuits are not subjected to faults.

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