This special issue pays tribute to 20 years of artificial life research in Europe. Since its inception around a coffee table in Paris in the summer of 1990, the European Conference on Artificial Life (ECAL) has grown and evolved to incorporate multiple research disciplines that aim to combine the natural and computational sciences. In addition to extending a long and rich tradition in theoretical biology present at that time in Europe toward the computational sciences and engineering, ECAL has also provided a platform for different innovative ideas that have produced a significant impact on other research domains or have resulted in novel research directions with their own workshops and conferences. This influence continues today, with the consideration of the different models and methods that are currently extensively used to answer biological questions in domains such as computational and systems biology. This...

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