Biological Bits
Alan Dorin, Animaland, 2014

This guide provides broad coverage of computational Artificial Life, a field encompassing the theories and discoveries underpinning the invention and study of technology-based living systems. It is targetted at students of all ages who are new to Artificial Life or are hoping to gain a broad understanding of its themes.

The book focusses specifically on Artificial Life realised in computer software. Topics include:

  • pre-history of Artificial Life
  • artificial chemistry
  • artificial cells
  • organism development
  • locomotion
  • group behaviour
  • evolution
  • ecosystem simulation

Cover Image: Biological Bits

AWARD WINNER: "Education and Outreach Award", The International Society for Artificial Life, Tokyo 2018

Incredibly beautiful free ebook ... on Alife, history, theory and programming - Ollie Bown; musician, electronic media artist, creativity researcher.

I believe this e-book will have a huge impact on the next generation of alifers - Hiroki Sayama; artificial life researcher.

This book covers a lot of ground in a short space, in a very interesting way. All good! - Gordon Monro; digital media artist, composer, mathematician.

...excellent free introductory book on Artificial Life – Tim Taylor, artificial life researcher.

This is a great resource which I will dip into from time to time. I’m very impressed and glad to see such a useful book available for people to use – Peter McIlwain, composer, sound designer, artist.

Biological Bits covers artificial life, virtual organisms, evolution, etc. Good stuff for #gamedev! - Ben Porter; game developer.


Biological Bits includes animations and interactive software for experimentation with key processes. Simulations are included to allow exploration of cellular automata, developmental models, group behaviour and ecosystem simulation to aid in illustrating the text. The book can be read cover-to-cover as a general introduction to Artificial Life, or it can serve as a textbook for university or advanced high-school courses.

ISBN-10: 0646918710
ISBN-13: 978-0-646-91871-6

Hashtag #biolbits on Twitter.
Sample page 1 Sample page 2 Sample page 3 Sample page 4 Sample page 5

A brief guide to the ideas and artefacts of computational artificial life
Alan Dorin, Animaland 2014

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Table of Contents 1. Technological History: themes of artificial life; stone, bone, clay and pigment; articulation; breath; Islamic and Chinese automata; clockwork; from steam to electricity. 2. Artificial Chemistry: the basic elements; chemistry before evolution; imaginary chemistries. 3. Artificial Cells: cellular automata; reaction-diffusion systems, mobile cells. 4. Organism Growth: diffusion-limited accretive growth; Lindenmayer systems; voxel automata, particle systems. 5: Locomotion: physical simulation; spring-loaded locomotion. 6. Group behaviour: flocks, herds and schools; swarm intelligence. 7. Ecosystems: ecosystem models; evolution; evolving ecosystems; aesthetic ecosystems, open-ended evolution. 8. Concluding remarks.
A note to students and educators.

For undergraduate students studying semester-long courses or projects, this text can act as a preliminary reading textbook. I hope the educator might select relevant chapters for students to read prior to lectures or tutorials. The material can serve to prompt students to begin thinking about Artificial Life and explore software based on its principles. Coupled with quiz or discussion questions targeted at the educator’s needs, I hope it serves as a useful way to begin to “flip” the classroom.

For research Honours, Masters and PhD students, my aim is to provide a broad, engaging text covering the main activities of Artificial Life. I consciously refer to historical work and to what I personally feel to be exciting areas for new research. I feel that the risk of approaching Artificial Life narrowly is real and the result will be an unhealthy compartmentalisation that other disciplines struggle to break. Let’s not go there! Some level of exposure across the range of approaches to creating Artificial Life is, I think, likely to be of considerable benefit. If nothing else, an understanding of the material in this text can make attendance at conferences, workshops and symposia on Artificial Life much more rewarding.

About the author Author

Alan Dorin is associate professor of computer science at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia. His research in artificial life spans ecological and biological simulation, artificial chemistry and biologically-inspired electronic media art. Alan also studies the history of science, technology, art and philosophy especially as these pertain to artificial life. Alan is also Co-editor in Chief of the journal, Artificial Life (MIT Press).

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