Friedrich, Tobias; Neumann, Frank; Sutton, Andrew M.Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference, GECCO 2016, Denver, CO, USA, July 20-24, 2016, Companion Material Proceedings. 2016ACM.

Friedrich, Tobias; Neumann, Frank; Sutton, Andrew M.Proceedings of the 2016 on Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference, GECCO 2016, Denver, CO, USA, July 20 - 24, 2016. 2016ACM.

Friedrich, Tobias; Kötzing, Timo; Krejca, Martin S.; Sutton, Andrew M.The Benefit of Recombination in Noisy Evolutionary Search. Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference (GECCO) 2016: 161-162

Practical optimization problems frequently include uncertainty about the quality measure, for example due to noisy evaluations. Thus, they do not allow for a straightforward application of traditional optimization techniques. In these settings, randomized search heuristics such as evolutionary algorithms are a popular choice because they are often assumed to exhibit some kind of resistance to noise. Empirical evidence suggests that some algorithms, such as estimation of distribution algorithms (EDAs) are robust against a scaling of the noise intensity, even without resorting to explicit noise-handling techniques such as resampling. In this paper, we want to support such claims with mathematical rigor. We introduce the concept of graceful scaling in which the run time of an algorithm scales polynomially with noise intensity. We study a monotone fitness function over binary strings with additive noise taken from a Gaussian distribution. We show that myopic heuristics cannot efficiently optimize the function under arbitrarily intense noise without any explicit noise-handling. Furthermore, we prove that using a population does not help. Finally we show that a simple EDA called the Compact Genetic Algorithm can overcome the shortsightedness of mutation-only heuristics to scale gracefully with noise. We conjecture that recombinative genetic algorithms also have this property.

Friedrich, Tobias; Kötzing, Timo; Quinzan, Francesco; Sutton, Andrew M.Ant Colony Optimization Beats Resampling on Noisy Functions. Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference (GECCO) 2016: 3-4

Despite the pervasiveness of noise in real-world optimization, there is little understanding of the interplay between the operators of randomized search heuristics and explicit noise-handling techniques such as statistical resampling. Ant Colony Optimization (ACO) algorithms are claimed to be particularly well-suited to dynamic and noisy problems, even without explicit noise-handling techniques. In this work, we empirically investigate the trade-offs between resampling an the noise-handling abilities of ACO algorithms. Our main focus is to locate the point where resampling costs more than it is worth.

Dang, Duc-Cuong; Friedrich, Tobias; Krejca, Martin S.; Kötzing, Timo; Lehre, Per Kristian; Oliveto, Pietro S.; Sudholt, Dirk; Sutton, Andrew MichaelEscaping Local Optima with Diversity Mechanisms and Crossover. Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference (GECCO) 2016: 645-652

Population diversity is essential for the effective use of any crossover operator. We compare seven commonly used diversity mechanisms and prove rigorous run time bounds for the \((\mu+1)\) GA using uniform crossover on the fitness function \(Jump_k\). All previous results in this context only hold for unrealistically low crossover probability \(p_c=O(k/n)\), while we give analyses for the setting of constant \(p_c < 1\) in all but one case. Our bounds show a dependence on the problem size \(n\), the jump length \(k\), the population size \(\mu\), and the crossover probability \(p_c\). For the typical case of constant \(k > 2\) and constant \(p_c\), we can compare the resulting expected optimisation times for different diversity mechanisms assuming an optimal choice of \(\mu\): \(O(n^{k-1})\) for duplicate elimination/minimisation, \(O(n^2 \log n)\) for maximising the convex hull, \(O(n \log n)\) for det. crowding (assuming \(p_c = k/n\)), \(O(n \log n)\) for maximising the Hamming distance, \(O(n \log n)\) for fitness sharing, \(O(n \log n)\) for the single-receiver island model. This proves a sizeable advantage of all variants of the \((\mu+1)\) GA compared to the (1+1) EA, which requires \(\Theta(n^k)\). In a short empirical study we confirm that the asymptotic differences can also be observed experimentally.

Friedrich, Tobias; Kötzing, Timo; Krejca, Martin S.; Nallaperuma, Samadhi; Neumann, Frank; Schirneck, MartinFast Building Block Assembly by Majority Vote Crossover. Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference (GECCO) 2016: 661-668

Different works have shown how crossover can help with building block assembly. Typically, crossover might get lucky to select good building blocks from each parent, but these lucky choices are usually rare. In this work we consider a crossover operator which works on three parent individuals. In each component, the offspring inherits the value present in the majority of the parents; thus, we call this crossover operator majority vote. We show that, if good components are sufficiently prevalent in the individuals, majority vote creates an optimal individual with high probability. Furthermore, we show that this process can be amplified: as long as components are good independently and with probability at least \(1/2+\delta\), we require only \(O(\log 1/\delta + \log \log n)\) successive stages of majority vote to create an optimal individual with high probability! We show how this applies in two scenarios. The first scenario is the Jump test function. With sufficient diversity, we get an optimization time of \(O(n \log n)\) even for jump sizes as large as \(O(n^{(1/2-\epsilon)})\). Our second scenario is a family of vertex cover instances. Majority vote optimizes this family efficiently, while local searches fail and only highly specialized two-parent crossovers are successful.

Friedrich, Tobias; Kötzing, Timo; Krejca, Martin S.{EDA}s cannot be Balanced and Stable. Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference (GECCO) 2016: 1139-1146

Estimation of Distribution Algorithms (EDAs) work by iteratively updating a distribution over the search space with the help of samples from each iteration. Up to now, theoretical analyses of EDAs are scarce and present run time results for specific EDAs. We propose a new framework for EDAs that captures the idea of several known optimizers, including PBIL, UMDA, \(\lambda\)-MMASIB, cGA, and \((1,\lambda)\)-EA. Our focus is on analyzing two core features of EDAs: a balanced EDA is sensitive to signals in the fitness; a stable EDA remains uncommitted under a biasless fitness function. We prove that no EDA can be both balanced and stable. The LeadingOnes function is a prime example where, at the beginning of the optimization, the fitness function shows no bias for many bits. Since many well-known EDAs are balanced and thus not stable, they are not well-suited to optimize LeadingOnes. We give a stable EDA which optimizes LeadingOnes within a time of \(O(n\,\log n)\).

Doerr, Benjamin; Doerr, Carola; Kötzing, TimoThe Right Mutation Strength for Multi-Valued Decision Variables. Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference (GECCO) 2016: 1115-1122

The most common representation in evolutionary computation are bit strings. This is ideal to model binary decision variables, but less useful for variables taking more values. With very little theoretical work existing on how to use evolutionary algorithms for such optimization problems, we study the run time of simple evolutionary algorithms on some OneMax-like functions defined over \(\Omega=\{0,1,\dots,r-1\}n\). More precisely, we regard a variety of problem classes requesting the component-wise minimization of the distance to an unknown target vector \(z \in \Omega\). For such problems we see a crucial difference in how we extend the standard-bit mutation operator to these multi-valued domains. While it is natural to select each position of the solution vector to be changed independently with probability \(1/n\), there are various ways to then change such a position. If we change each selected position to a random value different from the original one, we obtain an expected run time of \(\Theta(nr\log n)\). If we change each selected position by either +1 or -1 (random choice), the optimization time reduces to \(\Theta(nr+n\log n)\). If we use a random mutation strength \(i \in \{0,1,\dots,r-1\}n\) with probability inversely proportional to \(i\) and change the selected position by either +\(i\) or -\(i\) (random choice), then the optimization time becomes \(\Theta(n\log(r)(\log(n)+\log(r)))\), bringing down the dependence on \(r\) from linear to polylogarithmic. One of our results depends on a new variant of the lower bounding multiplicative drift theorem.