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Evolutionary Computation

Fall 2012, Vol. 20, No. 3, Pages 453-472
(doi: 10.1162/EVCO_a_00054)
© 2012 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
A Study on Scalable Representations for Evolutionary Optimization of Ground Structures
Article PDF (2.9 MB)

This paper presents a comparative study of two indirect solution representations, a generative and an ontogenic one, on a set of well-known 2D truss design problems. The generative representation encodes the parameters of a trusses design as a mapping from a 2D space. The ontogenic representation encodes truss design parameters as a local truss transformation iterated several times, starting from a trivial initial truss. Both representations are tested with a naive evolution strategy based optimization scheme, as well as the state of the art HyperNEAT approach. We focus both on the best objective value obtained and the computational cost to reach a given level of optimality. The study shows that the two solution representations behave very differently. For experimental settings with equal complexity, with the same optimization scheme and settings, the generative representation provides results which are far from optimal, whereas the ontogenic representation delivers near-optimal solutions. The ontogenic representation is also much less computationally expensive than a direct representation until very close to the global optimum. The study questions the scalability of the generative representations, while the results for the ontogenic representation display much better scalability.