Uncommon Descent

2 June 2007

Robert Marks’s Evolutionary Informatics Lab

William Dembski

Robert J. Marks II (see biosketch below) has just put his new Evolutionary Informatics Lab online:


Here is how the lab is described on the website:

Evolutionary informatics merges theories of evolution and information, thereby wedding the natural, engineering, and mathematical sciences. Evolutionary informatics studies how evolving systems incorporate, transform, and export information. Baylor University’s Evolutionary Informatics Laboratory explores the conceptual foundations, mathematical development, and empirical application of evolutionary informatics. The principal theme of the lab’s research is teasing apart the respective roles of internally generated and externally applied information in the performance of evolutionary systems.

On the evolutionary informatics site are three papers jointly authored by Prof. Marks and me, with more are in the works.

BIOSKETCH: Robert J. Marks II, Ph.D., is Distinguished Professor of Engineering in the Department of Engineering at Baylor University. He is Fellow of both IEEE and The Optical Society of America. Professor Marks was awarded the Outstanding Branch Councilor award by IEEE and was presented with the IEEE Centennial Medal. He was named a Distinguished Young Alumnus of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and is an inductee into the Texas Tech Electrical Engineering Academy. He was awarded the Golden Jubilee Award by the IEEE Circuits and Systems Society. He is also the first recipient of the IEEE Computational Intelligence Society Meritorious Service Award and the first honorary member of the Puget Sound Section of the Optical Society of America. He was also co-recipient of a NASA Tech Brief Award for the paper “Minimum Power Broadcast Trees for Wireless Networks”, and the Judith Stitt Award at the American Brachytherapy Society 23rd Annual Meeting. Dr. Marks served as a Distinguished Lecturer for the IEEE Computational Intelligence Society. Dr. Marks was Chair of IEEE Neural Networks Committee and served as the first President of the IEEE Neural Networks Council (now a Society). He was given the honorary title of Charter President. He served a a six year stint of the Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Transactions on Neural Networks and as an Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Fuzzy Systems. He was also the topical editor for Optical Signal Processing and Image Science for the Journal of the Optical Society of America A. He has served as a member of the Editorial Board for The International Journal of Neurocomputing, The Australian Journal of Intelligent Information Processing Systems, The Journal of Advanced Computational Intelligence, and Sampling Theory in Signal & Image Processing. Dr. Marks was co-founder and first President of The Puget Sound Section of the Optical Society of America. He was co-founder and first Chair of the IEEE Circuits & Systems Society Technical Committee on Neural Systems & Applications. Dr. Marks serves as the Steering Committee Chair for the 2005 IEEE Symposium on Swarm Intelligence in Pasadena. Dr. Marks served as General Chair of the International Symposium on Circuits and Systems, Seattle, General Co-Chair for four years of the IEEE/IAFE Conference on Financial Engineering in New York, International Chair of the RNNS/IEEE Symposium on Neuroinformatics and Neurocomputing (Rostov-on-Don, USSR), Organizational Chair for the (first), IEEE Virtual Reality Annual International Symposium (VRAIS) in Seattle and Raleigh, NC, respectively, and the (first) IEEE-SP International Symposium on Time-Frequency and Time-Scale Analysis (Victoria, BC). He served as Program and Tutorials Chair for the First International Forum on Applications of Neural Networks to Power Systems (Seattle). He served as the Awards Chair and Fellows Chair for the IEEE Computational Intelligence Society. Dr. Marks served as an elected member of the Board of Governors and Administrative Vice President of the IEEE Circuits and Systems Society. Professor Marks was the Technical Program Director for the first IEEE World Congress on Computational Intelligence, Orlando, the Program Co-chair for The IEEE/IAFE Conference on Financial Engineering (New York), The RNNS/IEEE Symposium on Neuroinformatics and Neurocomputing (Rostov-on-Don, Russia) and The International Conference on Neural Networks (ICNN) in Perth, Australia. He served as the North American Liaison for the Singapore International Joint Conference on Neural Networks (IJCNN); the Tutorials Chair for the IEEE World Congress on Computational Intelligence, Anchorage; Publications Chair of the IEEE International Electric Machines and Drives Conference (IEMDC’99), Seattle. He was the Special Sessions Chair for the 2000 International Joint Conference on Neural Networks - Italy. Dr. Marks has over 300 publications. Some of them are very good. Ten of Dr. Marks’ papers have been reproduced in volumes of collections of outstanding papers. He has three US patents in the field of artificial neural networks and signal processing. He is the author of the books Introduction to Shannon Sampling and Interpolation Theory (Springer Verlag, 1991), Neural Smithing: Supervised Learning in Feedforward Artificial Neural Networks (MIT Press, 1999) - with Russ Reed, and Handbook of Fourier Analysis and Its Applications (Oxford University Press, in press). He is the editor of Advanced Topics in Shannon Sampling and Interpolation Theory (Springer Verlag, 1993), and Fuzzy Logic Technology and Applications (IEEE Technical Activities Board, Piscataway, 1994). He is also a co-editor of the volumes Computational Intelligence: Imitating Life (IEEE Press, 1994), and Computational Intelligence: A Dynamic Systems Perspective (IEEE Press, 1995).

These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Netscape
  • Reddit
  • Fark
  • Furl
  • NewsVine
  • StumbleUpon
Email This Post Email This Post Print This Post Print This Post
17 Responses




9:09 pm


Now this article is very interesting, I know that evolutionists try to skirt the issue of negative mutation rates for DNA, Yet this problem is crushing to developing any meaningful infromation in a genome. The plain fact is that there are no known beneficial mutations that have arisen by totally random processes. The beneficial mutations that do occur still fall within the realm of “Genetic Entropy” and exibit odds that blatantly defy randomness and clearly indicate “front loading”. In fact Dr. J.C. Sanford in his book “Genetic Entropy” makes the case quite clear that the vast majority of mutations happen within the slightly negative zone so as to be below the radar of selection pressure. This means that the negative mutation load builds up in the entire population of a species before any hypothetical beneficial truly random mutation would occur that would add information to the Genome. Dr. Dembski, since you have work with Dr. Marks in the past, do you know how he is going to address these crushing issues of genetic entropy to the theory of evolution?


William Dembski


9:11 pm


Bornagain77: Precisely what article are you referring to? I expect genetic entropy is fair game for the lab, though it’s not something I’ve discussed with Bob.




9:13 pm


This cannot be real because we know that IDist never do research :D.




10:06 pm


Dr Dembski,
I’m refering to the fact that Baylor, your old school where you taught, is having this Informatics lab. It is truly sort of a soap opera twist isn’t it?
Dr, J.C. Sanford wrote a book, in 2005, titled “Genetic Entropy” in which he pulls together many studies establishing the principle of Genetic Entropy. He list many studies in the book laying the foundation for the book. His case appears to be absolutely crushing to the evolutionary scenario. He also points out that many stretches of DNA are polyfuntional thus poly-constrained, but that is besides the point, Genetic Entropy ties functionality to the generation of meaningful information in the DNA. The only way I can see evolutionists getting past the empirical evidence, Dr. Sanford has established ,is they somehow divorce information from functionality of organisms. That is why I asked you if you knew how Dr. Marks was going to address this issue. Is he truly going to address the problem of Genetic Entropy head on or is he going to do some fancy hand waving that divorces information from functionality so as to preserve the sacred theory of evolution?




11:32 am


Didn’t you post an article once on this blog about attempts at modeling randomness? [or somethign along that line]. I was curious about where to find it.. one of the statements you said, that I can vaguely recall, is something along the lines about questioning whether true randomness exists [or can be modeled??]..and how non randomness would be in alignment with reformation theologies.

Are there any papers you can point me to on this? They might not be from another website and not on this blog.





12:01 pm





12:41 pm


There is no “genetic entropy” issue, so I doubt Marks or the lab will ba addressing it.

Think about it. If God created the earth an all that is in it 6000 years ago, and then all that was in it were wiped out save the few on the ark, all current diversity must be explained as either new creations of God or as having descended from those who survived the flood on the ark.

I don’t know anyonw who holds to the former of the two views, so address the latter. Did all the current diversity in the biotic realm arise since the flood by means of “genetic entropy”?

If so, I would not say it’s a bad thing to have it, though Sandford seems to think so.




2:25 pm


That might be a/the paper that he was refering to in his comments. But the bit I am referring to was commentary on a blog or small article. He discussed the implications in reform theology. A search on that paper yielded no hits for “reform”.
Thanks for the link to the piece, never-the-less. It looks very interesting.





11:48 pm


Some interesting papers up there for our perusal. Thanks.

Can’t wait to hear from Good Math, Bad Math on why one of this applies to evolution.




9:37 am


Did I missed something. Are these Darwinists? If yes, then it is wonderfull. Atleast they realised that science without math is not science. So may be… may be evolution theory at last will produce something handy for usage in everyday life. Or, which I believe more, they will realise what ID dudes allready know.
Anyway I believe in IT and Math, so if the dudes are honest ones, they will not miss the truth.




10:32 am


I fear alot of these publications in review will be rejected… simply because they have your name on it (Dembski). I hope they get through, but I am not optimistic. If anything, I expect Dr. Marks to be blackballed…

Either way, there is a lot on the line now. G’luck.




10:52 am


Strongly endorse the recommendation to:
Dr. John C. Sanford, Genetic Entropy & The Mystery of the Genome. 2005 Ivan Press ISBN 1-59919-002-8.

Following are major technical papers he reviews in Appendix 1.

J.B.S. Haldane 1957 The Cost of natural selection. J. Genetics 55:511-524
“natural selection cannot occur with great intensity for a number of characters at once.” “the mean time taken for each gene substitution is about 300 generations.”

See followup by
Walter Remine 2005. Cost of Selection Theory. Technical Journal 19:113-125.

Kimura, M. 1968. Evolutionary rate at the molecular level. Nature 217:624-626.
“the substitutional load becomes so large that no mammalian species could tolerate it” … “the mutation rate per generation for neutral mutationhs amounts to roughly … four per zygote…”.

Kimura, M. The Neutral Theory of Molecular Evolution, 1983 Cambridge Univ. Press p 27
“to maintain the same population number aqnd still carry out mutant substitutions … each parent must leave … 3.72 million offspring to survive and reproduce.”

Muller, H.J. 1950. Our load of mutations. Amer. J. Human Genetics 2:111-176.
“the present number of children per couple cannot be great enough to allow selection to keep pace with mutation rate of 0.1.” pp 149-150.

Muller, H.J. 1964. The relation of recombination to mutational advance. Mutation Research 1:2-9.
“There comes a level of advantage, however, that is too small to be effectively seized upon by selection, its voice being lost in the noise, so to speak.”
“… an asexual population incorporates a kind of rachet mechanism, such that … lines become more heavily loaded with mutation.”

J. V. Neel et al. 1986. The rate with which spontaneous mutation alters the electrophoretic mobility of polypeptides. PNAS 83:389-393.
“… gamete rates for point mutations … on the order of 30 per generation… The question of how our species accommodates such mutation rates is central to evolutionary thought.”

A. S. Kondrashov. 1995. Contamination of the genome by very slightly deleterious mutations: Why have we not died 100 times over? J. Theor. Biol. 175:583-594.
“accumulation of VSDMs in a lineage … acts like a timebomb … the existence of vertebrate lineages … should be limited to 10^6 to 10^7 generations.”

S. Kondrashov. 2002. Direct estimates of human per nucleotide mutation rates at 20 loci causing Mendelian diseases. Human Mutation 21:12-27.
“… the total number of new mutations per diploid human genome per generation is about 100 … at least 10% of these are deleterious … analysis of human variability suggests that a normal person carries thousands of deleterious alleles…”.
(Kondrashov privately estimates up to 300 /generation with 30% deleterious.)
Sanford notes: “U”(deleterious mutations per person per generation) would be 30-90. This is 100-fold higher than would have previously been considered possible.

M. W. Nachman & S.L. Crowell 2000. Estimate of the mutation rate per nucleotide in humans. Genetics 156:297-304.
“The human diploid genome … about 175 new mutations per generation. The high deleterious mutation rate in humans presents a paradox. If mutations interact multiplicatively, the genetic load associated with such high U would be intolerable in species with a low rate of reproduction …”

A. Eyre-Walker and P Keightley. 1999. High genomic deleterious mutation rates in Huminids. Nature 397:344-347.
“average of 4.2 amino-acid-altering mutations per diploid per generation have occurred in the human lineage…”. “a large number of slightly deleterious mutations may therefore have become fixed in huminoid lineages … it is difficult to explain how human populations could have survived… a high rate of deleterious mutation n(U>>1) is paradoxical in a species with a low reproductive rate…”

J. F. Crow. 1997. The high spontaneous mutation rate: is it a health risk? PNAS 94:8380-8386.
“It seems clear that for the past few centuries harmful mutations have been accumulating…The decrease in viability from mutation accumulation is some 1-2% per generation… I regard mutation accumulation as a problem. It is something like the population bomb, but with a much longer fuse.”

M. Lynch, J. Conery & R. Burger, 1995. Mutation accumulation and the extinction of small populations. The American Naturalist 146:489-518.
“…synergistic interaction between random genetic drift and mutation accumulation, which we refer to as mutational meltdown … the length of the meltdown phase is generally quite short.” … “for genetic reasons alone, sexual populations with effective population sizes smaller than 100 individuals are unlikely to persist for more than a few hundred generations…”

K. Higgins & M. Lynch. 2001. Metapopulation extinction caused by mutation accumulation. PNAS 98:2928-2933.
“with mutation accumulation the extinction time is just slightly longer than 100 generations…” (vs 2000). “… the mild mutational effects are most damaging, causing minimal time to extinction.”

Fred Hoyle. 1999. Mathematics of Evolution. Acorn Enterprises, LLC Memphis.
“This long term inability of natural selection to preserve the integrity of genetic material sets a limit to its useful life…”.

Howell et al. 1996. Evolution of human mtDNA. How rapid does the human mitochondrial genome evolve? A. J. Hum. Genet. 59:501-509.
… how (or whether) organisms can tolerate, in the sense of evolution, a genetic system with such a high mutational burden.”
Sanford notes “just 0.1 -1.0 mitochondrial mutations per person create insurmountable problems for evolutionary theory.”

Sanford gives numerous other population based challenges evolution. On p 139 he summarizes:
“We have reviewed compelling evidence that even when ignoring deleterious mutations, mutation/selection cannot create a single gene – not within the human evolutionary timescale. When deleterious mutations are factored back in, we see that mutation/selection cannot create a single gene – ever. This is overwhelming evidence against the Primary Axiom. In my opinion this constitutes what is essentially a formal proof that the Primary Axiom is false.”




12:10 pm


Avida developers stated:”…our experiments showed that the complex feature never evolved when simpler functions were not rewarded.”
Lenski, Ofria, Pennock & Adami, “The evolutionary origin of complex features.” Nature vol 423, 139-144 (8 May 2003)

While evolution “must” have beneficial mutations, almost all recorded mutations are harmful.

Bergman found 453,732 “mutation” hits in Biological Abstracts and Medline. Of these 186 mentioned “beneficial” of which all involved loss-of-function.
Bergman, J. 2004. Research on teh deterioration of the genome and Darwinism: why mutations result in degeneration of the genome. Intelligent Design Conference, Biola Univ. April 22-23.

Mutations are registered in:
Online Inheritance In Man OMIM
OMIM Statistics for June 4, 2007
17,717 entries.

Gerrish and Lenski estimate the rate of harmful to beneficial mutations at 1 million:1
Gerrish, P.J. & R. Lenski, 1998. Theh fate of competing beneficial mutations in an asexual population. Genetica 102/103: 127-144.

Thus while Avida requires a sequence of beneficial mutations, actual mutations are almost all harmful.

Furthermore, numerous mutations occur simultaneously. Mot of these cannot be selected out and build up, eventually causing species death.

Sanford details numerous other factors, each of which can result in species death.

Recommend working towards building these factors into your models to demonstrate the reality of genomic entropy via evolutionary degradation, and the associated mathematical foundations that must be incorporated into realistic evolutionary search models.


Eric Anderson


3:52 pm


Mung wrote:

“Did all the current diversity in the biotic realm arise since the flood by means of “genetic entropy”?”

Sanford is not saying that diversity arises due to genetic entropy. Genetic entropy is the fly in the ointment — the recognition that genomes generally degrade over time (rather than being built up) as the result of mutation.




3:17 am



Albert D.G. de Roos with his think provoking papers about design by contract in biology would be a very good member of that new lab.

Did you ask him to participate?

Best regards,




3:01 pm



There is a typo in the Polanyi qoute on the home page. I suspect ‘he’ should be ‘be’.

[…] On June 1, 2007, the lab went online, amid fanfare here at Uncommon Descent. (Marks changed the URL on the Baylor serve July 11, 2007 to this, now offline. […]

Post a Response