Banazîr the Jedi Hobbit (banazir) wrote,
Banazîr the Jedi Hobbit

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Evolutionary Computation: A Cautionary Tale

True story:

In 1999, I wrote a paper for a workshop on Data Mining with Evolutionary Algorithms (DMEA) at the the Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference (GECCO) and the American Association for Artificial Intelligence (AAAI). When it was accepted, I notified a co-worker who had employed two of the students who had worked on the paper with us, co-supervised them, and provided some of the test bed data from a data mining problem (classification of auto insurance policies by expected paid loss).

On April 7, 2000, a year after the GECCO-AAAI DMEA paper was accepted and about nine months after it was published, I was contacted via e-mail by the co-worker with this request:
Could you do me a favor? For reasons of faith, I am firmly opposed to the use of any algorithms with a basis on the hypotheses of evolution and natural selection, and would be grateful if you would remove my name from the official list of authors for any papers that deal (or have dealt) with this topic on web sites, official publications, and any other source. I do not want to have any association with what I consider to be destructive ideas.

I replied thusly:
There are two such papers, both from the conference on genetic and evolutionary computation (GECCO-99 and a joint AAAI-GECCO-99
workshop). I have done as you requested and removed your name from
the author list of the web links for the paper. I will also remove your
name from the online version that I have control over and replace this
version. The print and CD versions are under the editorial control of
[Morgan]-Kaufmann, the proceedings publisher for last year's conference.

I was asked to tell the publishers this:
If you don't mind contacting the publisher perhaps you could simple notify them that my name was inadvertantly included - it's the truth, after all, since you didn't notify me that you were including me as a co-author on these publications. :)

Let me know whether they can make the changes.

Thanks Bill.

My reply:

No, Bill, it is not the truth. Whether you remember it or not, I notified you of your co-author credit, the title and URL of the workshop, the topic of both accepted papers, and the names of other colleagues whom I
acknowledged as co-authors. Attached please find your reply, containing the information I submitted to you and your acknowledgement.

I agreed to remove your name from all versions of the paper that I have control over, as a courtesy to you - the reason I included your name in the first place. (For your information, Michael Welge explained when I first joined NCSA that this was a customary courtesy in our research group. I would have done it anyway, in recognition of your role as PI of the project that supported this publication.)

If you want further action, it is up to you to contact the publishers with the above information in hand. I cannot lie to them.

    Subject: Re: GECCO-AAAI workshop paper accepted!
    From: Bill Pottenger <>
    To: (William Henry Hsu)
    Date: Mon, 5 Apr 1999 17:42:32 -0500 (CDT)

    Good job, Bill - thank you.


    > Dear co-authors (Bill P., Michael, Jie, TIng-Hao),
    > A second paper on the GA wrapper design has been accepted.
    > This one is for the 1999 GECCO-AAAI workshop on Genetic and
    > Evolutionary Methods for Data Mining.
    > The URL for AAAI workshops is:
    > The one for this workshop in particular is:
    > Camera ready copy is due 4/21!
    > -Bill H.

This story first broke in a thread of comments on my 06 Nov 2004 blog entry on creationism in schools. Names have heretofore been omitted to protect parties concerned, but it occurs to me that there is no reason to continue this practice.

I will say this for the record:

I teach evolutionary computation, a branch of computer science that studies "evolutionary techniques inspired by mechanisms from biological evolution such as natural selection, mutation and recombination to find an optimal configuration for a specific system within specific constraints" (Wikipedia, 2004).

Come and get me.
I dare you.

Tags: conferences, evolution, religion, research

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