Our research focuses upon the creation of adaptive software to solve computational problems that are considered intractable to compute by direct techniques. Adaptive programs emulate the process of evolution by breeding populations of solutions within a defined problem space, then retaining and combining the individual solutions which best fit the problem space. The fields to which these techniques have been applied to include :
  • Electromagnetic fields and electronic systems

    Generating and protecting against the effects of picosecond pulsed electromagnetic fields is of particular relevance to satellite and military electronic and radar stealth systems. We have designed programs to evolve structures for the generation and propagation of broadband electromagnetic pulsed fields. This has resulted in the discovery of some unexpected configurations, including novel types of spark switched Hertzian devices and spiral TEM antennas. Using similar techniques to evolve shielding we are finding novel means to protect electronic devices from powerful electromagnetic fields. These include conductive fibers suspended in dielectrics with carefully selected properties.

    These programs use time domain solutions to the Maxwell equations and evolve topologies from an initial population of random dielectric/conductor configurations. In one case the goal is the to generate the highest directional electromagnetic pulse intensity for a given amount of input energy in the shortest time, in the other the goal is to dissipate or absorb without reflecting the most electromagnetic energy impinging upon the structure from a baseband source.

  • Predicting the physical properties of materials

    If it were possible to accurately predict the physical properties of a molecule we could screen any molecule for desired properties using computers. It would then be possible to create synthetic medicines, electronic components, polymers, alloys etc. within a computer and then test them for required properties. In principle it is possible to predict every property of any molecule or atom by finding the exact solution to the Schrödinger equation for the electron wave of that molecule or atom. However there is a severe and intractable problem relating to solving this form of the Schrödinger equation.It simply cannot be solved exactly for any system containing more than two interacting particles. This means for any atom or collection of atoms other than monatomic hydrogen we cannot with certainty predict the properties it will exhibit. It is only possible to find an approximate a solution, and molecules do not posses 'approximate' properties.

    We are researching a promising alternative approach to predicting physical properties. This approach is based upon finding the function that maps directly from the structure of the molecule/atom to one of its properties using adaptive software, then applying that function to new configurations. The software evolves within a problem space consisting of training and validation databases consisting of the physical properties and connected graph descriptions of many thousands of molecules. The goal is to find those functions which map from the graph of the molecule to the physical property with the smallest error over the both the training and the validation databases. This process is then repeated until the population converges on an accurate solution.

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