In this paper we introduce embedded landscapes as an extension of NK landscapes and MAXSAT problems. This extension is valid for problems where the representation can be expressed as a simple sum of subfunctions over subsets of the representation domain. This encompasses many additive constraint problems and problems expressed as the interaction of subcomponents, where the critical features of the subcomponents are represented by subsets of bits in the domain. We show that embedded landscapes of fixed maximum epistasis K are exponentially sparse in epistatic space with respect to all possible functions. We show we can compute many important statistical features of these functions in polynomial time including all the epistatic interactions and the statistical moments of hyperplanes about the function mean and hyperplane mean. We also show that embedded landscapes of even small fixed K can be NP-complete. We can conclude that knowing the epistasis and many of the hyperplane statistics is not enough to solve the exponentially difficult part of these general problems and that the difficulty of the problem lies not in the epistasis itself but in the interaction of the epistatic parts.

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