Sunday, 29 December 2013

Mutations classified

Arbitrary document modifications can be modeled as a series of insertions and deletions.

This sort of scheme works pretty well as the basis for a mutation classification scheme - in both organic and cultural evolution.

Sometimes it is useful to model a combined insertion and deletion as a replacement.

With insertions and replacements, the source of the introduced information can be used to sub-classify. The most obvious sub-classification involves whether the inserted information comes from self or other. A replacement of material from yourself could be classified as a rearrangement.

An insertion of material copied directly from yourself would be a duplication. A movement of material is commonly called a translocation.

This scheme is similar in some respects to the existing one used to classify organic mutations - though my proposal is substrate neutral.

An orthogonal classification scheme is whether the mutations are accidental or deliberate. Deliberate mutations are seen in the immune system, for example. They are also a common feature of cultural evolution.

Mutations can also be classified by their effect on function, by their effect on fitness and by whether they are inherited. These classification schemes work equally well in the organic and cultural realms.

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