Abstract

Estimation of distribution algorithms (EDAs) are stochastic optimization techniques that explore the space of potential solutions by building and sampling explicit probabilistic models of promising candidate solutions. While the primary goal of applying EDAs is to discover the global optimum or at least its accurate approximation, besides this, any EDA provides us with a sequence of probabilistic models, which in most cases hold a great deal of information about the problem. Although using problem-specific knowledge has been shown to significantly improve performance of EDAs and other evolutionary algorithms, this readily available source of problem-specific information has been practically ignored by the EDA community. This paper takes the first step toward the use of probabilistic models obtained by EDAs to speed up the solution of similar problems in the future. More specifically, we propose two approaches to biasing model building in the hierarchical Bayesian optimization algorithm (hBOA) based on knowledge automatically learned from previous hBOA runs on similar problems. We show that the proposed methods lead to substantial speedups and argue that the methods should work well in other applications that require solving a large number of problems with similar structure.

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