Math in the Media

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Mathematical Digest

Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Putting a Darwinian Spin on the Diesel Engine," by Bruce Schechter. New York Times, 19 September 2000.

Normally, engine design proceeds by trial and error. However, Drs. Peter Senecal and Rolf Reiz at the University of Wisconsin used microgenetic algorithms to simulate different diesel engine designs. They developed a test engine that "consumed 15 per cent less fuel than a standard engine while producing one-third as much nitric oxide and half the soot." Just as evolution leads to the optimum combination of genes for survival, computer simulation using the algorithms finds the optimum engine by "mating" the design of good engines. Says Dr. Senecal, "This is the first application of genetic algorithms to engine design."

--- Michael Breen