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Evolutionary Neural Net Update
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I haven't talked about this in a while, but I'm still working on it with my friend Philip.

We're building a Java-based variant of a technique called NEAT (Neuro-Evolution of Augmenting Topologies) to evolve neural nets that play the class of strategic board games including Tic-Tac-Toe, Pente, and Go.

Since my last update, I've been working on a piece of the application that will convert XML, via XSLT, into SVG. (By the way, anybody out there work with SVG?)

For diagnostic purposes, we wanted a way to graphically represent the neural nets that our evolutionary algorithm produces. The Chemical Markup Language demo at the Adobe site seemed just what we were looking for. It takes CML, an XML language for representing molecules, and converts those documents into graphical SVG files (which is pretty cool).

So over the past couple of weeks, while Philip has been working away at the core engine of our evolutionary algorithm, I've been figuring out how to graphically represent the neural net individuals that we'll be evolving. So far I've got a decent workable preliminary version that draws all the nodes, connections, and connection weights in a 2D map, based on a simple neural net markup language that we came up with.

Hopefully, within the next week or 10 days, we'll be far enough along to test the evolver on the simplest of tests for a neural net, the XOR problem.

Then we'll be adding all sorts of diagnostic features, experimenting with performance based on tweaking different parameters, and then of course we'll begin tackling Tic-Tac-Toe.

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