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"Does evolution have a built in Occam’s razor?"

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr. Adrien Hallou.

Darwinian evolution proceeds by natural selection acting on random variation. In this talk I will argue that random mutations can generate striking patterns in the arrival of novel phenotypes that can shape adaptive outcomes. The basic intuition follows from an algorithmic twist on the infinite monkey theorem, inspired by the fact that natural selection doesn’t act directly on mutations, but rather on the phenotypes that are generated by developmental programmes. If the monkeys type at random in a computer language, they will preferentially produce outputs that can be generated by shorter algorithms. This intuition can be formalised with algorithmic information theory and predicts that random mutations are exponentially more likely to produce simpler phenotypes with low descriptional (Kolmogorov) complexity. Evidence for this evolutionary Occam’s razor will be presented for symmetry in protein complexes, and for simplicity in RNA secondary structures, gene regulatory networks, and Richard Dawkins’biomorphs model of development.

This talk is part of the Theory of Living Matter Group series.

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