Genetic Algorithms: Where Evolutionary Biology Meets Nuclear Engineering

Computer modeling helps show one possible organization of the FNS design.

What does Charles Darwin have to do with building an advanced nuclear reactor? Potentially quite a lot. In the groundbreaking 1859 book, On the Origin of Species, Darwin introduced the scientific theory of biological evolution through natural selection: the strongest live on, breed, and create the next generation.

Nuclear Engineering Department Head Wes Hines has found that the same genetic algorithm (GA) can be adapted for mechanical systems—including nuclear reactor designs—in which designs can “mate” and create new designs.

Hines was brought to UT by Bob Uhrig in 1995, a Distinguished Professor of Engineering and Distinguished Scientist in the Advanced Science and Technology Division at ORNL under the Science Alliance program.

Once at UT, Hines began to write a supplement to Uhrig’s book on the specific applications of artificial intelligence (AI) to nuclear engineering.

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