Parameter Control in EA

Tarundeep Singh Dhot Dept of ECE Concordia University Montreal, QC H3G 1M8

The performance of an EA is dependent on its parameter values. The value of the algorithm parameters greatly determine whether the algorithm will find an optimal or near optimal solution and also, whether it will find it efficiently. Thus, determining the correct (optimal) parameter values is essential. The parameter values can be set before the run of the algorithm, known as parameter tuning but having a static set of parameters with fixed values during the run of an EA is less effective, hence, inappropriate. The other form of setting parameter values is known as parameter control where after setting an initial set of parameter values at the start of the EA, the values are changed during the run. It is a more appropriate method as it is an intrinsically dynamic and adaptive process in contrast to one which uses rigid parameters that do not change their values. A well known illustration of controlling (adapting) parameters during the evolution process is by changing the mutation step size. But other components of an EA can also be parameterized and adjusted. We can classify parameter control techniques in essentially 3-dimensions based on three criteria: What is changed: i.e. which parameter or component is changed (representation, evaluation function, etc). Even though the ‘what aspect’ has a somewhat arbitrary character, it is considered an important classification feature as it indicates where a specific mechanism has its effect. How are changes made: i.e. methods of changing the value of a parameter. It is further divided as deterministic, adaptive and self-adaptive. In deterministic, there is no feedback whatsoever from the search with the rule modifying the strategy parameter in a fixed predefined way (time varying schedule, eg: reduce mutation by half after 100 generations). Thus, it doesn’t take into consideration performance of the algorithm till then. Adaptive parameter control offers some sort of feedback from the search which is used to determine the direction or magnitude of change of strategy parameter. It may use credit assignment for fixing parameter values based on the quality of the solutions discovered. The updating mechanism used to control parameter values is externally supplied rather than being part of the standard evolutionary cycle. In Self-adaptive parameter control, adaptation is under genetic control i.e. parameters to be adapted are encoded into the chromosomes and undergo mutation and recombination. Here credit assignment and update of strategy parameters is entirely implicit as compared to adaptive control. Eg: Meta-EP – mutation operator encoded in chromosome < s,  >. What Evidence informs the change: It uses a feedback after monitoring the search is used to adjust parameter values. If the value of strategy parameter is altered by some rule

applied after occurrence of a predefined event, it is called absolute evidence while if the change is made based on comparison of relative performance (rather than deterministically), it is called relative evidence. Another criterion that can be considered is the Scope or Level of adaptation. It signifies the components affected by the change i.e. parameter, chromosome, entire population and so on. It is not an independent dimension as it usually depends on the component of the EA where the change took place. Also scope depends on how the given parameters are actually interpreted but scope is nt considered as a major classification criterion. In conclusion, parameter control is concerned with obtaining the best set of parameter values in order to avoid sub-optimal performance of an EA.

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