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Artificial life, or Alife is a
While artificial life is a large discipline with a variety of concerns, we'll focus here on what is called synthetic ethology. This is defined most succinctly by Bruce MacLennan:
Synthetic ethology is an approach to the study of animal behavior in which simple, synthetic organisms are allowed to behave and
evolvein a synthetic world. Because both the organisms and their worldsare synthetic, they can be constructedfor specific purposes, particularly for testing specific hypotheses. [MacLennan]
Artificial life can then be described as the theory and practice for biological system modeling and simulation. One hope of researchers working with artificial life is that by modeling biological systems, we can come to a better understanding of why and how they work. Through the models, researchers can manipulate their environments to play "what if"
A food chain describes the hierarchy of living organisms within an ecosystem. For instance, consider a very simple abstracted food chain made up of three entities. At the bottom of the food chain is the plant. It derives its energy from the environment (rain, soil, and the sun). The
Figure 7.1: Simple food chain.
By viewing Figure 7.1 as a dependency graph, it should be very clear that a delicate balance exists between the entities. What happens if the