The first is a level of plumbing to connect genetic operators, for example, that allows the user to store state, parameters to the algorithm, to write to a log, and, since these algorithm are stochastic, random number generation. This will be implemented as what I'm going to call the Stochastic Reader Writer State Monad (SRWS), which is just the RWS monad with another State keeping a seed for the random number generator. This provides the functionality one would expect for one of these algorithms, but I don't plan on enforcing any conditions on exactly what context, state, or log one actually keeps. These will have to be filled in for each algorithm, although I plan on writing some default ones for basic Genetic Algorithms and maybe Gene Expression Programming.
The burden is on the user to make sure that parameters that don't change are stored in some sort of context, that they have a data structure to hold their state, and that they insert writes to the log where they want. This is the weakness of this approach that I tried to avoid in my last attempt at writing a library like this. It seems like each algorithm will have to duplicate a lot of data and have its own, possibly large, data structures for things like generation count or probability of mutation, even if it is only a small extension of Genetic Algorithms. I think the way around this is to provide a separate specialization of the generic plumbing for each algorithm type, along with some classes like GenerationCount with functions like s -> Int with s the state, which says it has some generation count without specifying how to extract it. This is basically like a getter in OO, and I'm not sure that I'm not just regressing to my imperative thinking with that design. Perhaps there is something nicer out there? Lenses, maybe?
The second layer of this library would be some sort of mechanism for constructing these algorithms. I don't think that this layer has somehow capture the nature of the algorithm, or even be the most direct was of specifying it. Right now, my focus is just to give a single, coherent way to build bigger algorithms out of little pieces. If the ideas are simple and composable then I would be satisfied, even if I expect they will not be the most efficient. My current plan is to use this idea of composing machines to build the necessary operators. I'm not entirely sure what form the machines will take, but I've been playing around with several possibilities, and I hope to post about some of them soon.
To give a simple example of how the concept of little machine could be applied here, I'm going to describe how I envision building the usual GA. Assuming a bit vector representation for individuals, the bits would be (conceptually) little machines that, when provided a number between 0 and 1, would output a 0 or a 1, possibly changing some internal state. This internal state will probably be accessible, but with some of the schemes I've looked at it is not visible (see http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Haskell/StephensArrowTutorial). Selection will be a function that, given a population with fitnesses for the individuals, returns a machine that, given a number between 0 and 1, will return an individual. Repeating this process to get pairs of individuals, we would construct a machine that, given a number between 0 and the length of the individuals, would return a pair of crossed individuals. Notice that these machine are really just functions, but they store information about what actions they take along with their data. This is, again, somewhat like OOP. The advantage here is that it provides a single concept with which to express the operators, and it localizes the information about how they work, so that it may be easy to automate.
In addition to developing some of the ideas for how to define these ideas, I hope to make clear why I think this idea is useful at all (which I imagine isn't clear at first, even with (maybe because of?) this example). Just a simple look ahead- the result may end up just being the SRWS monad just like the outer layer, but perhaps with a little extra structure or another wrapping.