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Pages 71-78
First published 2 September 2013

The ALife Zoo: cross-browser, platform-agnostic hosting of Artificial Life simulations

Simon Hickinbotham, Michael Weeks, James Austin


We describe a new approach to sharing software simulations that is of great potential benefit to Artificial Life researchers. youShare is an online collaborative facility that allows users to upload data, and software in the form of services. An attached execution environment allows services to be run over a heterogeneous cluster of compute nodes, where the service infrastructure guarantees that the service will be executed in the correct environment, and provide consistent results. It allows software to be made available as a service regardless of the operating system they run upon. This allows software to be maintained more easily, and to be available to all researchers with internet access. We demonstrate this by making three Artificial Life simulations available over the web: Tierra, Avida and Stringmol. These services form the foundation of an ALife "Zoo", in which visitors can interact with ALife simulations for research and education. In addition, youShare offers a workflow facility whereby multiple services can be connected to create more complex tasks. We demonstrate the utility of this system in Artificial Life research via a workflow which calculates evolutionary activity for runs of Tierra and Stringmol.