AI33 - Biological and Bioinspired Computing


The website will now be adapted to the 2008 winter term.

Course work will be announced soon.

The module is now taught by Marc de Kamps.


The only indisputably intelligent systems on this planet are biological. Biological intelligences share several characteristics: they were all designed by natural evolutionary processes, they are typically controlled by nervous systems, and they often work together in groups, swarms, or flocks. In contrast to human beings (and to many of the artificial intelligences designed by human beings), the vast majority of these biological intelligences are simple creatures: they don't appear to use logic, mathematics, complex planning, complicated modelling of their environment, or even memory in some cases. Nevertheless, even the simplest of these natural intelligences can achieve complex information processing and computational tasks that current artificial intelligences find very challenging indeed.

Can these simple biological systems and the processes that created them teach us lessons that will help us design better artificial intelligences? Is it possible to abstract cartoon models of biological systems that nonetheless capture some of the amazing feats that these systems achieve? Where might such bio-inspired solutions fit in the scheme of computer science today?

In this module we will explore the extent to which biological systems such as neurons, brains, insects, and insect colonies have influenced the design of artificial intelligences and our understanding of what intelligence actually is. In addition we will learn how biological processes such as evolution and coevolution can be harnessed to automatically produce solutions to challenging problems in AI as well as more generally in computer science, and how biological phenomena such as flocking can inspire algorithms for robot control and the computer generation of life-like animation.

A formal specification of the module, including objectives and syllabus, can be found here. (The prerequisites listed here do not apply for 2008 students.)

Submission of Coursework:

Coursework 1: deadline to be announced

Detailed description 1

Coursework 2: deadline to be announced

Detailed description 2

Lecture slides

Lecture slides


For some course work you will need the BEAST tar-file. this contins the beast executable and several project files. You need to compile the project files yourself, which is not as difficult as it may seem. Detailed instructions are available to help you. The project files can then be modified.


Reading, suggested and otherwise.


The three demo on the Perceptron Theorem can be found here:


Website, demos, applets, etc.