Costs and Benefits of Tuning Parameters of Evolutionary Algorithms

Authors Volker Nannen | S. K. Smit | A. E. Eiben
In Parallel Problem Solving from Nature - PPSN X, pp. 528--538, 2008.
ISBN 978-3-540-87699-1

We present an empirical study on the impact of different design choices on the performance of an evolutionary algorithm (EA). Four EA components are considered—parent selection, survivor selection, recombination and mutation—and for each component we study the impact of choosing the right operator, and of tuning its free parameter(s). We tune 120 different combinations of EA operators to 4 different classes of fitness landscapes, and measure the cost of tuning. We find that components differ greatly in importance. Typically the choice of operator for parent selection has the greatest impact, and mutation needs the most tuning. Regarding individual EAs however, the impact of design choices for one component depends on the choices for other components, as well as on the available amount of resources for tuning.

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