The term "artificial life" describes research into synthetic systems that possess some of the essential properties of life. This truly interdisciplinary field includes biologists, computer scientists, physicists, chemists, geneticists, and others. Artificial life may be viewed as an attempt to understand high-level behavior from low-level rules—for example, how the simple interactions between ants and their environment lead to complex trail-following behavior. An understanding of such relationships in particular systems can suggest novel solutions to complex real-world problems such as disease prevention, stock-market prediction, and data mining on the Internet.
Since their inception in 1987, the Artificial Life meetings have grown from small workshops to truly international conferences, reflecting the field's increasing appeal to researchers in all areas of science.