Genetic algorithms typically use crossover, which relies on mating a set of selected parents. As part of crossover, random mating is often carried out. A novel approach to parent mating is presented in this work. Our novel approach can be applied in combination with a traditional similarity-based criterion to measure distance between individuals or with a fitness-based criterion. We introduce a parameter called the mating index that allows different mating strategies to be developed within a uniform framework: an exploitative strategy called best-first, an explorative strategy called best-last, and an adaptive strategy called self-adaptive. Self-adaptive mating is defined in the context of the novel algorithm, and aims to achieve a balance between exploitation and exploration in a domain-independent manner. The present work formally defines the novel mating approach, analyzes its behavior, and conducts an extensive experimental study to quantitatively determine its benefits. In the domain of real function optimization, the experiments show that, as the degree of multimodality of the function at hand grows, increasing the mating index improves performance. In the case of the self-adaptive mating strategy, the experiments give strong results for several case studies.

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