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Evolutionary Computation

Summer 2003, Vol. 11, No. 2, Pages 129-149
(doi: 10.1162/106365603766646807)
© 2003 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Mapping the Royal Road and Other Hierarchical Functions
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In this paper we present a technique for visualising hierarchical and symmetric, multi-modal fitness functions that have been investigated in the evolutionary computation literature. The focus of this technique is on landscapes in moderate-dimensional, binary spaces (i.e., fitness functions defined over {0,1}n, for n ≤ 16). The visualisation approach involves an unfolding of the hyperspace into a two-dimensional graph, whose layout represents the topology of the space using a recursive relationship, and whose shading defines the shape of the cost surface defined on the space. Using this technique we present case-study explorations of three fitness functions: royal road, hierarchical-if-and-only-if (H-IFF), and hierarchically decomposable functions (HDF). The visualisation approach provides an insight into the properties of these functions, particularly with respect to the size and shape of the basins of attraction around each of the local optima.