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Evolutionary Computation

Winter 2017, Vol. 25, No. 4, Pages 587-606
(doi: 10.1162/evco_a_00195)
© 2017 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Introducing Elitist Black-Box Models: When Does Elitist Behavior Weaken the Performance of Evolutionary Algorithms?
Article PDF (495.25 KB)

Black-box complexity theory provides lower bounds for the runtime of black-box optimizers like evolutionary algorithms and other search heuristics and serves as an inspiration for the design of new genetic algorithms. Several black-box models covering different classes of algorithms exist, each highlighting a different aspect of the algorithms under considerations. In this work we add to the existing black-box notions a new elitist black-box model, in which algorithms are required to base all decisions solely on (the relative performance of) a fixed number of the best search points sampled so far. Our elitist model thus combines features of the ranking-based and the memory-restricted black-box models with an enforced usage of truncation selection. We provide several examples for which the elitist black-box complexity is exponentially larger than that of the respective complexities in all previous black-box models, thus showing that the elitist black-box complexity can be much closer to the runtime of typical evolutionary algorithms. We also introduce the concept of p-Monte Carlo black-box complexity, which measures the time it takes to optimize a problem with failure probability at most p. Even for small p, the p-Monte Carlo black-box complexity of a function class can be smaller by an exponential factor than its typically regarded Las Vegas complexity (which measures the expected time it takes to optimize ).