The Uncarved Block

An Introduction to Genetic Algorithms

Review of Melanie Mitchell's excellent book

So today is Ada Lovelace Day, and the challenge has been thrown down to write about women in technology. Now there are many obvious candidates (Grace Hopper for one), but I decided to write instead a review of an excellent computer science book that just happens to have a female author. I originally bought this book from a second-hand bookshop for five pounds. I liked it so much that when I lost my original copy I bought it again at full price.

I have been interested for years in GAs and have read fairly widely. Koza, Holland etc etc etc. Many of those books adopt either a sort of messianic tone, implying that this one technique will solve all the problems of the world, or the typical academic approach of attempting to make your work sound as difficult and important as possible while simultaneously undermining all the work of your peers in the field.

Mitchell's book could not be more different. It explains the basic approaches clearly, and in enough detail to inspire further study. She has an excellent grasp of the pros and cons of the approach and it's promise, and it's mercifully short. An excellent read and real kudos to Mitchell for an approachable and readable introduction to the field.

permalink Updated: 2009-03-25