Well, the problem with design is that it is kinda subjective. We NEED a human to assess the fitness. The most common way is to present the user with 9 different designs. He will then choose the one he likes the most. That is then given the hightest fitness (one does not need to grade the others).
In a live environment (such as in a gallery) where one shows the designs on a screen a fitness measure could be an assessment by a webcam on how many people are watching.
An interesting thing would be to hook this script up to the net. Showing people different designs and let blender create new ones. That would be very cool! I’ll add that for version 2, hehe.
Hill climbing and simulated annealing is new to me (of course I’ve heard about it, I’ve just not studied it closely). But now when I’ve read some about it I totally understand why you think my idea is more closely related to that. What can I say, I got it presented to me as interactive evolutionary algorithms (google that). They do exist and they do work. Now, what the evolutionary part is in it I have not really been able to figure out yet. Mutation and Crossover does happen but between which individuals I don’t yet really know. This is something I will have to learn on the road. But if it turns out that hill climbing or simulated annealing is better, I can see myself using that instead. I’m not locked in to evolution. And a switch between algorithms for the search is no biggie as long as the interface is done.
I like your idea about using an EA for fitting a mesh to a shape. I haven’t worked with the sculp tool and its retopo option but this might be very useful there! You could also let N vary and scale the fitness values depending on how few vertexes are needed. I mean, the fewer vertexes, the better. You should look into it! This could also be a very good way to reduce mesh densities, especially from laser scans.
I just did a evolutionary NN (only weights, not topology) just a week and a half ago in a homework assignment (solving the 3 input binary XOR problem). Very interested indead!
If you want to partner up on anything connected to blender and EA/ANN/SA just let me know.