Dr Simon T. Powers


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My current research interests involve modelling social interactions using analytical and agent-based models. I approach this both from the perspective of economics, and by using evolutionary algorithms to model the spread of culturally-transmitted behaviours (social learning) in populations. I am particularly interested in the processes by which social institutions in human groups evolve over time, and on the conditions under which institutions can promote cooperation in large-scale groups of self-interested agents. 

I also maintain interests in applying artificial immune systems to intrusion detection, and in neural networks for both machine learning and as models of behaviour.

I previously held postdoctoral positions with Prof. Laurent Lehmann at the Department of Ecology & Evolution, University of Lausanne, and with Dr. Joanna Bryson at the Department of Computer Science, University of Bath. My Ph.D. thesis is titled "Social niche construction: Evolutionary explanations for cooperative group formation", and was supervised by Prof. Richard Watson at the School of Electronics & Computer Science, University of Southampton.












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Areas of Expertise link icon

  • Bio-inspired Computing
    The Bio-Inspired Algorithms group within the Centre for Algorithms, Visualisation and Evolving Systems is a large and thriving group with interests in nature-inspired computing that include Evolutionary Computing, Hyper-Heuristics, Artificial Immune Systems and Swarm Intelligence.
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+44 (0)131 455 2718

Room C42
Merchiston Campus
10 Colinton Road
EH10 5DT

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    Recent Projects

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    PhD Project Involvement

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    Andreas Steyven (PhD 2013-)
    Exploiting cooperative behaviour to guide open-ended evolution in multi-robot applications. Swarm robotics is a special case within the general field of robotics. The distributed nature makes it more resilient with no single point of failure. Considering the application in remote locations,...
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    Recent Publications

    Powers, S.T., Schaik, Carel P. van, Lehmann, L. (2016). How institutions shaped the last major evolutionary transition to large-scale human societies. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 371, (1687), .

    Powers, S., Lehmann, L. (2016). When is bigger better? The effects of group size on the evolution of helping behaviours. Biological Reviews, , (), .

    Ryan, Paul A., Powers, S., Watson, Richard A. (2016). Social niche construction and evolutionary transitions in individuality. Biology and Philosophy, 31, (1), 59-79.

    Power, Daniel A., Watson, Richard A., Szathm√°ry, E., Mills, R., Powers, S., Doncaster, C. Patrick, Czapp, B. (2015). What can ecosystems learn? Expanding evolutionary ecology with learning theory. Biology Direct, , (), .

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    Supervised dissertations