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Evolutionary Computation

Spring 2015, Vol. 23, No. 1, Pages 37-67
(doi: 10.1162/evco_a_00121)
© 2015 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
A Lifelong Learning Hyper-heuristic Method for Bin Packing
Article PDF (1.86 MB)
Abstract

We describe a novel hyper-heuristic system that continuously learns over time to solve a combinatorial optimisation problem. The system continuously generates new heuristics and samples problems from its environment; and representative problems and heuristics are incorporated into a self-sustaining network of interacting entities inspired by methods in artificial immune systems. The network is plastic in both its structure and content, leading to the following properties: it exploits existing knowledge captured in the network to rapidly produce solutions; it can adapt to new problems with widely differing characteristics; and it is capable of generalising over the problem space. The system is tested on a large corpus of 3,968 new instances of 1D bin-packing problems as well as on 1,370 existing problems from the literature; it shows excellent performance in terms of the quality of solutions obtained across the datasets and in adapting to dynamically changing sets of problem instances compared to previous approaches. As the network self-adapts to sustain a minimal repertoire of both problems and heuristics that form a representative map of the problem space, the system is further shown to be computationally efficient and therefore scalable.