SPECIES — the Society for the Promotion of Evolutionary Computation in Europe and its Surroundings.

SPECIES was setup as a non-profit association under French law (Association loi de 1901) on 16 July 2014 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada in the presence of Anna Esparcia-Alcázar, Una-May O’Reilly, Wolfgang Banzhaf, Jason Moore, Marc Schoenauer. Its French name is “Société pour la Promotion de l’Evolution Artificielle en Europe et Alentours”, SPEA2.

The historic moment: Marc Schoenauer and Anna Esparcia-Alcazar, signing the legal documents
The historic moment: Marc Schoenauer and Anna Esparcia-Alcazar, signing the legal documents

It aims to promote evolutionary algorithmic thinking within Europe and wider, and more generally to promote inspiration of parallel algorithms derived from natural processes.

The initial legal officers of SPECIES are: Marc Schoenauer (President), Anna Esparcia Alcazar (Secretary and Vice-President), and Wolfgang Banzhaf (Treasurer).

The happy assembly after the official foundation of SPECIES / SPEA2: Left to right: Anna Esparcia-Alcazar, Marc Schoenauer, Wolfgang Banzhaf, Jason Moore and Una-May O’Reilly
The happy assembly after the official foundation of SPECIES / SPEA2:
Left to right: Anna Esparcia-Alcazar, Marc Schoenauer, Wolfgang Banzhaf, Jason Moore and Una-May O’Reilly

SPECIES also provides an appropriate legal structure for the organisation and support of EvoStar Conferences, which have been held under slightly different names since 1998.
Some EvoStar history

The EvoStar events were originally developed by EvoNet, the Network of Excellence in Evolutionary Computing, established by the European Commission. The EvoNet networking effort was tremendously successful in bringing together researchers both from academia and industry, and it immediately attracted the attention of international researchers as well.

EvoNet was coordinated by Terry Fogarty and managed by Jennifer Willies, both at Edinburgh Napier University and had more than 100 participating nodes. It succeeded in creating lasting research collaborations stretching over several generations.

EvoNet spawned a series of lasting workshops which continued beyond the period of EC funding. The first were held in Paris in April 1998 providing an influential crystalisation point for researchers interested in Genetic Programming and Evolutionary Robotics.

Thereafter each year the workshop series expanded include other topics, with EuroGP, EvoAPPS, EvoCOP and EvoMUSART subsequently becoming conferences co-located under the EvoStar banner. An uninterrupted annual series of workshops and conferences has been held since 1998, and the 20th anniversary edition of EvoStar will be held in Amsterdam from 19–21 April 2017. Details of all EvoStar events can be found at www.evostar.org

Support provided by Edinburgh Napier University in helping EvoStar to continue over the years, even after Evonet funding ended, is gratefully acknowledged.  In 2014, SPECIES was set up to provide an appropriate legal structure for future organisation and support of the EvoStar conferences, and this becomes effective as of this year 2017, while Jennifer Willies continues to act as EvoStar Coordinator.
SPECIES beyond EvoStar

The promotion of evolutionary algorithmic thinking should not be limited to the annual scientific conferences. It should involve the broader public, career paths for young people, as well as raising the awareness of governments and industrial/academic stakeholders. SPECIES is open to initiatives by individuals and groups that further its aims, and it welcomes ideas and suggestions.