Natural Computing 2017

Prof. dr. Thomas Bäck


    For the Fall 2018 course see Blackboard!
    [24 Jan. 2018] Exam grades are available here!
    [10 Jan. 2018] Grades for the practial assignment are available here!
    [7 Sept. 2017] The practial assignment is online!
    [5 Sept. 2017] The first lecture will be on Tuesday September 12, appologies for any confusion.

Course description

Natural computing or natural computation is the field of research that works with computational techniques inspired by nature and natural systems. The aim of such research is to develop new computational tools for solving complex, usually conventionally-hard problems. This often leads to the synthesis of natural patterns, behaviors and organisms, and may result in the design of novel computing systems that use natural media with which to compute.

This course will give an introduction to various algorithms that are inspired by nature and show how they have proven to be very powerful in solving various kinds of problems.

Course regulations

There is a final written exam at the end of the course that will determine your final grade for 70%. The other 30% of your grade will be based on the practical assignment.

The final grade is computed as:

A successful completion of the course will be rewarded with 6ECTS.


The exam is closed-book and will be based on the lecture-slides.

Practical assignment

In the practical assignment you are asked to solve a real-life optimization problem using algorithms from Natural Computing. It may be done individually or in pairs, and is to be implemented in MATLAB.

Running Matlab

Some instructions on how to start Matlab on the computers at the Snellius building, or what you can do if you do not want to use those computers are available here

Matlab tutorial

A Matlab tutorial is available below so you can practice if you are not yet familiar with Matlab.

Course material & Schedule

The course slides and the current time schedule are as follows.

Sample exam

Find the exam of 2007 here.

Answers to the Sample exam

Answer to the exam of 2007 here

Sample questions

Find the sample questions of Firefly Synchronization and L-Systems here.

Exercises for L-systems

Find the the exercises for L-systems here.

Recommended literature

Brabazon, Anthony, Michael O'Neill and Seàn McGarraghy - Natural Computing Algorithms
Springer (2015)
ISBN-Ebook: 978-3-662-43631-8 \ ISBN-Hardcover 978-3-662-43630-1

Leandro Nunes de Castro - Fundamentals of Natural Computing
Chapman & Hall/CRC; 1 edition (June 2, 2006)
ISBN10: 1584886439 \ ISBN13: 9781584886433

Marco Dorigo and Thomas Stützle - Ant Colony Optimization
MIT Press (6 Jul 2004)
ISBN10: 0262042193 \ ISBN13: 978-0262042192

Other Material