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First published July 1 2016

On the Difficulty of Co-Optimizing Morphology and Control in Evolved Virtual Creatures

Nicholas Cheney, Josh Bongard, Vytas Sunspiral, and Hod Lipson

Abstract (Excerpt)

The field of evolved virtual creatures has been suspiciously stagnant in terms of complexification of evolved agents since its inception over two decades ago. Many researchers have proposed algorithmic improvements, but none have taken hold and greatly propelled the scalability of early works. This paper suggests a more fundamental problem with co-evolving both the morphology and control of virtual creatures simultaneously one cemented in the theory of embodied cognition. We reproduce and explore in greater detail a previous finding in the literature: premature convergence of the morphology (compared to the convergence point of optimizing controllers), and discuss how this finding fits as a symptom of the proposed problem. We hope that this improved understanding of the fundamental problem domain will open the door for further scalability of evolved agents, and note that early findings from our future work point in that direction.