Self adaptation in evolutionary algorithms.
PhD, University of the West of England.
Evolutionary Algorithms are search algorithms based on the Darwinian metaphor of “Natural Selection”. Typically these algorithms maintain a population of individual solutions, each of which has a fitness attached to it, which in some way reflects the quality of the solution. The search
proceeds via the iterative generation, evaluation and possible incorporation of new individuals based on the current population, using a number of parameterised
genetic operators. In this thesis the phenomenon of Self Adaptation of the genetic operators is investigated.
A new framework for classifying adaptive algorithms is proposed, based on the scope of the adaptation, and on the nature of the transition function guiding the search through the space of possible configurations of the algorithm. Mechanisms are investigated for achieving the self adaptation of recombination and mutation operators within a genetic algorithm, and means of combining them are investigated. These are shown to produce significantly better results than any of the combinations of fixed operators tested, across a range of problem types. These new operators reduce the need for the designer of an algorithm to select appropriate choices of operators and parameters, thus aiding the implementation of genetic
algorithms. The nature of the evolving search strategies are investigated and explained in terms of the known properties of the landscapes used, and it is suggested how observations of evolving strategies on unknown landscapes may be used to categorise them, and guide further changes in other facets of the genetic algorithm.
This work provides a contribution towards the study of adaptation in Evolutionary Algorithms, and towards the design of robust search algorithms for “real world” problems.
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