The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Epistasis: the Galactic View

Wednesday, October 17, 2018


CCMB, Prof. Dan Weinreich

Watson Center for Information Technology (CIT)

CIT 241 Swig Boardroom

Dr. Robert Heckendorn
Dept. of Computer Science
University of Idaho

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Epistasis: the Galactic View

The world would be simple if it wasn’t for epistasis. Epistasis is the
wrench in works of evaluating fitness of genotype. Without it the
Wrightian fitness landscape would be boringly single peaked and the
task of evolution would be relatively simple. Evolutionary Computation
is the use of evolution based algorithms for “solving” optimization
problems. For us, Evolutionary Computation is conscious evolution
with intent and problem structure, as measured by epistasis, is
critical to understanding how to better optimize a function. Linkages
we find in mechanics of real world problems are like the linkages we
see in biological problems which reveal the chemistry and physics of

We will look at a broader view of epistasis from those trying to solve
optimization problems and how that might be merged with the biological
prospective. We will discuss the representation of fitness space as
epistasis space and the implications and limitations for
computability. We will find, from a theory standpoint, there is some
good news and some bad news and some wild guesses. So I would like to
say “in large friendly letters DON’T PANIC.

Hosted by Dan Weinreich