The Artificial Immune Recognition System is inspired by the Clonal Selection theory of acquired immunity. The clonal selection theory credited to Burnet was proposed to account for the behavior and capabilities of antibodies in the acquired immune system. Inspired itself by the principles of Darwinian natural selection theory of evolution, the theory proposes that antigens select-for lymphocytes (both B and T-cells). When a lymphocyte is selected and binds to an antigenic determinant, the cell proliferates making many thousands more copies of itself and differentiates into different cell types (plasma and memory cells). Plasma cells have a short lifespan and produce vast quantities of antibody molecules, whereas memory cells live for an extended period in the host anticipating future recognition of the same determinant. The important feature of the theory is that when a cell is selected and proliferates, it is subjected to small copying errors (changes to the genome called somatic hypermutation) that change the shape of the expressed receptors. It also affects the subsequent determinant recognition capabilities of both the antibodies bound to the lymphocytes cells surface, and the antibodies that plasma cells produce.
The theory suggests that starting with an initial repertoire of general immune cells, the system is able to change itself (the compositions and densities of cells and their receptors) in response to experience with the environment. Through a blind process of selection and accumulated variation on the large scale of many billions of cells, the acquired immune system is capable of acquiring the necessary information to protect the host organism from the specific pathogenic dangers of the environment. It also suggests that the system must anticipate (guess) at the pathogen to which it will be exposed, and requires exposure to pathogen that may harm the host before it can acquire the necessary information to provide a defense.
The information processing objective of the technique is to prepare a set of real-valued vectors to classify patterns. The Artificial Immune Recognition System maintains a pool of memory cells that are prepared by exposing the system to a single iteration of the training data. Candidate memory cells are prepared when the memory cells are insufficiently stimulated for a given input pattern. A process of cloning and mutation of cells occurs for the most stimulated memory cell. The clones compete with each other for entry into the memory pool based on stimulation and on the amount of resources each cell is using. This concept of resources comes from prior work on Artificial Immune Networks, where a single cell (an Artificial Recognition Ball or ARB) represents a set of similar cells. Here, a cell’s resources are a function of its stimulation to a given input pattern and the number of clones it may create.
The following algorithm provides a high-level pseudocode for preparing memory cell vectors using the Artificial Immune Recognition System, specifically the canonical AIRS2. An affinity (distance) measure between input patterns must be defined. For real-valued vectors, this is commonly the Euclidean distance:
where n is the number of attributes, x is the input vector and c is a given cell vector. The variation of cells during cloning (somatic hypermutation) occurs inversely proportional to the stimulation of a given cell to an input pattern.
The AIRS was designed as a supervised algorithm for classification problem domains. The AIRS is non-parametric, meaning that it does not rely on assumptions about that structure of the function that is is approximating.
Real-values in input vectors should be normalized such that x in [0; 1]. Euclidean distance is commonly used to measure the distance between real-valued vectors (affinity calculation), although other distance measures may be used (such as dot product), and data specific distance measures may be required for non-scalar attributes. Cells may be initialized with small random values or more commonly with values from instances in the training set. A cell’s affinity is typically minimizing, where as a cells stimulation is maximizing and typically in [0; 1].