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Evolutionary Computation

Fall 2010, Vol. 18, No. 3, Pages 451-489
(doi: 10.1162/EVCO_a_00001)
© 2010 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
A New Method for Modeling the Behavior of Finite Population Evolutionary Algorithms
Article PDF (492.98 KB)

As practitioners we are interested in the likelihood of the population containing a copy of the optimum. The dynamic systems approach, however, does not help us to calculate that quantity. Markov chain analysis can be used in principle to calculate the quantity. However, since the associated transition matrices are enormous even for modest problems, it follows that in practice these calculations are usually computationally infeasible. Therefore, some improvements on this situation are desirable. In this paper, we present a method for modeling the behavior of finite population evolutionary algorithms (EAs), and show that if the population size is greater than 1 and much less than the cardinality of the search space, the resulting exact model requires considerably less memory space for theoretically running the stochastic search process of the original EA than the Nix and Vose-style Markov chain model. We also present some approximate models that use still less memory space than the exact model. Furthermore, based on our models, we examine the selection pressure by fitness-proportionate selection, and observe that on average over all population trajectories, there is no such strong bias toward selecting the higher fitness individuals as the fitness landscape suggests.