Bilevel optimization, as the name reflects, deals with optimization at two interconnected hierarchical levels. The aim is to identify the optimum of an upper-level leader problem, subject to the optimality of a lower-level follower problem. Several problems from the domain of engineering, logistics, economics, and transportation have an inherent nested structure which requires them to be modeled as bilevel optimization problems. Increasing size and complexity of such problems has prompted active theoretical and practical interest in the design of efficient algorithms for bilevel optimization. Given the nested nature of bilevel problems, the computational effort (number of function evaluations) required to solve them is often quite high. In this article, we explore the use of a Memetic Algorithm (MA) to solve bilevel optimization problems. While MAs have been quite successful in solving single-level optimization problems, there have been relatively few studies exploring their potential for solving bilevel optimization problems. MAs essentially attempt to combine advantages of global and local search strategies to identify optimum solutions with low computational cost (function evaluations). The approach introduced in this article is a nested Bilevel Memetic Algorithm (BLMA). At both upper and lower levels, either a global or a local search method is used during different phases of the search. The performance of BLMA is presented on twenty-five standard test problems and two real-life applications. The results are compared with other established algorithms to demonstrate the efficacy of the proposed approach.

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