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Our presentation slide (ppt)

We use flying butterflies to demonstrate evolution in life. These butterflies grow over time, and can reproduce to give birth to offspring. And, eventually, they would die.

These butterflies like people. In fact, they need to be around people in order to grow and survive. They “feed” on human contacts — they are attracted to gently moving shadows of people, and they would even perch on stationary people. But they are afraid of fast-moving people which quickly scare them away. The growth of a butterfly depends on its accumulated duration of human contacts. In other words, the more contacts a butterfly has with people, the faster it grows.

When a butterfly is young, its wings would be small and have less saturated colors, and simpler patterns. The wing sizes, colors, and patterns just mentioned are “genetic” features of the butterfly. When the butterfly grows older, its wings become bigger and their colors more saturated. When it reaches maturity, it will try to find an attractive partner to reproduce. An attractive butterfly could be defined as one that has larger wings, more saturated colors, and more beautiful wing patterns. When two butterflies are both attracted to each other, they would mate and give birth to an offspring that would inherit some selected “genetic” features from its parent.

People can interfere with this whole evolution process. They could actively feed the butterflies by doing a feeding gesture; surrounding butterflies will be attracted to the feeding hand and will grow faster. A person can also do a “net” gesture, which will cause a butterfly net to be virtually attached to the person’s hand and he/she can use the net to catch butterflies. Butterflies that haven’t reached maturity could die if it’s being kept in the net for even a short time. Mature butterflies, on the other hand, could survive much longer.

To make the number of butterflies stay around the same, we could impose “birth control” so that each butterfly only give birth to two babies.
When a butterfly is too old, it would die (fade away).

[possible extension:]
Possibly we would also allow people to create butterflies with the “butterfly gesture”.

— Input —
* people’s shadows, their motions (speed and direction), and the possible gestures that they can do.

— Machine learning (the black box) —
* A butterfly picks the best partner to mate, based on the genetic algorithm which also decide on the colors, sizes, and patterns of the wings of the offsprings.
* motion recognition to detect speed and direction of shadow movement
* gesture recognition to detect gestures


One Comment

    • Barkin Aygun
    • Posted February 6, 2009 at 12:17 am
    • Permalink

    So I’ve looked around for Genetic Algorithm libraries, there is one highly spoken of, but the website is down right now. It’s Aaron Steed’s library, and his website is under maintenance, so you might want to look around a bit for a library.

    Otherwise, I would definitely suggest using some sort of physics library for butterflies, I’m sure there is one out there that simulates flight and gravity, would make things easier for you guys :)

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