Evolving Multimodal Behavior With Modular Neural Networks in Ms. Pac-Man (2014)
Ms. Pac-Man is a challenging video game in which multiple modes of behavior are required to succeed: Ms. Pac-Man must escape ghosts when they are threats, and catch them when they are edible, in addition to eating all pills in each level. Past approaches to learning behavior in Ms. Pac-Man have treated the game as a single task to be learned using monolithic policy representations. In contrast, this paper uses a framework called Modular Multiobjective NEAT to evolve modular neural networks. Each module defines a separate policy; evolution discovers these policies and when to use them. The number of modules can be fixed or learned using a new version of a genetic operator, called Module Mutation, which duplicates an existing module that can then evolve to take on a distinct behavioral identity. Both the fixed modular networks and Module Mutation networks outperform traditional monolithic networks. More interestingly, the best modular networks dedicate modules to critical behaviors that do not follow the customary division of the game into chasing edible and escaping threatening ghosts.

[ Winner of the GECCO-2014 Best Paper Award in Digital Entertainment and Arts ]
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In Proceedings of the Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference (GECCO 2014), 325--332, Vancouver, BC, Canada, July 2014. Best Paper: Digital Entertainment and Arts.
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Risto Miikkulainen Faculty risto [at] cs utexas edu
Jacob Schrum Ph.D. Alumni schrum2 [at] cs utexas edu
MM-NEAT Modular Multiobjective NEAT is a software framework in Java that builds on the basic principles of 2014