Genetic programming: pygene, pygp, AST, or (gasp) Lisp?

Kay Schluehr kay.schluehr at
Sun Jul 20 11:08:35 CEST 2008

On 20 Jul., 09:52, John Ladasky <lada... at> wrote:

> Why not do genetic programming directly on Python code?  Maybe my code
> tree data structure is redundant to something which already exists?
> But apparently Python's "_ast" module offers only one-way access -- it
> will generate an AST from a piece of code, but you can't modify an
> AST, and turn it back into executable code?

Why not? You can compile ASTs.

Another option is to use EasyExtend

which is a bit heavyweight though without prior knowledge of the

EE provides some generic functions over languages like parse/unparse.
Python is just a special case. So you can do the following

from import parse, unparse

src = """
  if disc(a) < c:
     b = f1(a)
     b = f2(a)

parse(src)            # yields a parse tree
unparse(parse(src))   # yields the source code of the parse tree

Here `zero` means Python which is just the trivial/featureless langlet
of the system or some kind of embedding.

For meshing fragments together on random one can use

For each rule in Pythons grammar implements a corresponding
function that produces the parse tree accordingly. So if there is a

  test: or_test ['if' or_test 'else' test] | lambdef

a corresponding function test(*args) exists that produces a parse tree
from components that were built using or_test(), test() or lambdef().
chaining these functions is just like building s-expr.

> I would definitely need
> this latter feature.
> ALTERNATELY -- and I don't mention this to start a flame war -- in
> pondering this problem I've noticed the frightening fact that Lisp
> seems set up to handle genetic programming by design.

Definitely. But this is nothing new. Lisp was the original language
used by John Koza to implement GP.

> The s-
> expression syntax IS essentially a parse tree.  Now, I've spent a few
> hours with Lisp so far, and I can't make it do much of anything -- but
> I DO see how Lisp could be helpful.  Still, I'm reluctant to pursue a
> language I don't know, and which I'm finding much harder to grasp than
> any language I've tried before.

You can write a primitive s-expr evaluator/manipulator using Pythons
overloading capabilities. But this way you will just produce s-expr
and not Python functions.


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