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Evolutionary Computation

Winter 1999, Vol. 7, No. 4, Pages 331-352
(doi: 10.1162/evco.1999.7.4.331)
© 1999 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Scalability Problems of Simple Genetic Algorithms
Article PDF (1.4 MB)
Abstract

Scalable evolutionary computation has. become an intensively studied research topic in recent years. The issue of scalability is predominant in any field of algorithmic design, but it became particularly relevant for the design of competent genetic algorithms once the scalability problems of simple genetic algorithms were understood. Here we present some of the work that has aided in getting a clear insight in the scalability problems of simple genetic algorithms. Particularly, we discuss the important issue of building block mixing. We show how the need for mixing places a boundary in the GA parameter space that, together with the boundary from the schema theorem, delimits the region where the GA converges reliably to the optimum in problems of bounded difficulty. This region shrinks rapidly with increasing problem size unless the building blocks are tightly linked in the problem coding structure. In addition, we look at how straightforward extensions of the simple genetic algorithm—namely elitism, niching, and restricted mating are not significantly improving the scalability problems.