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Pages 316-323
First published 2 September 2013

Exploring the Point-mutation Space of a von Neumann Self-reproducer within the Avida World

Tomonori Hasegawa, Barry McMullin


The architecture of machine self-reproduction originally formulated by John von Neumann is studied within the artificial life system Avida. We describe a hand-designed von Neumann style self-reproducer, and report initial results from an exhaustive search of its single-point-mutation space. Unsurprisingly, the majority of mutants are simply sterile, and have no long-term evolutionary potential; however, automated characterisation and classification of the minority, fertile mutants proves to be difficult. We identify specific limitations of the standard Avida analysis tool for this particular purpose, and outline how it may usefully be enhanced.