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Preface to Paperback Edition of NO FREE LUNCH

My book NO FREE LUNCH is now, five years after its publication, appearing in paperback. I was asked to write a new preface to the paperback edition. Here is an excerpt:

… Ironically, the very sketchiness of mathematical details that Wolpert claims prevents one from properly assessing the book does not prevent him from offering just such an assessment. In his review, he writes: “Neo-Darwinian evolution of ecosystems does not involve a set of genomes all searching the same, fixed fitness function, the situation considered by the NFL theorems. Rather it is a co-evolutionary process. Roughly speaking, as each genome changes from one generation to the next, it modifies the surfaces that the other genomes are searching. And recent results indicate that NFL results do not hold in co-evolution.” Since one of my main claims in this book is that NFL results do apply to co-evolution, it would seem that, coming from the inventor of the NFL theorems, this criticism should be devastating. But it is not. In Wolpert’s 2005 paper with William Macready titled “Coevolutionary Free Lunches” (IEEE Transactions on Evolutionary Computation), the authors acknowledge, in both the abstract and the conclusion, that “in the typical coevolutionary scenarios encountered in biology, where there is no champion, the NFL theorems still hold.” I highlight this contradiction not to gloat but simply to point up that the issues raised in this book remain very much alive and under discussion, and that the key players are still quite far from reaching a consensus….

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3 Responses to Preface to Paperback Edition of NO FREE LUNCH

  1. 1
    sagebrush gardener

    A couple of proofreading notes:

    “Gallop polls” should be “Gallup polls”.

    And a very minor nit — the correct name of the publisher is “Rowman & Littlefield” rather than “Rowman and Littlefield”.

    [Thanks. --WmAD]

  2. 2

    You wrote:
    >>>>>In his review, he writes: “Neo-Darwinian evolution of ecosystems does not involve a set of genomes all searching the same, fixed fitness function, the situation considered by the NFL theorems. Rather it is a co-evolutionary process. Roughly speaking, as each genome changes from one generation to the next, it modifies the surfaces that the other genomes are searching. And recent results indicate that NFL results do not hold in co-evolution.”

  3. 3

    Sorry — part of my comment was cut off when I first tried to post it. It would be nice if there were a comment-preview feature here. Here is my comment again –

    You wrote:
    “In his review, he writes: ‘Neo-Darwinian evolution of ecosystems does not involve a set of genomes all searching the same, fixed fitness function, the situation considered by the NFL theorems. Rather it is a co-evolutionary process. Roughly speaking, as each genome changes from one generation to the next, it modifies the surfaces that the other genomes are searching. And recent results indicate that NFL results do not hold in co-evolution.’ ”

    I am wondering — is the term “co-evolution” being used here in its normal meaning? Co-evolution is normally defined as the mutual evolutionary influence of two kinds of organisms — e.g., bees and flowering plants — that become dependent on each other. I consider questions concerning co-evolution to be an important non-ID challenge to evolution theory. Co-evolution is discussed on my blog at –
    http://im-from-missouri.blogsp.....radox.html

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