Sorting unsigned permutations by reversals is a difficult problem; indeed, it was proved to be NP-hard by Caprara (1997). Because of its high complexity, many approximation algorithms to compute the minimal reversal distance were proposed until reaching the nowadays best-known theoretical ratio of 1.375. In this article, two memetic algorithms to compute the reversal distance are proposed. The first one uses the technique of opposition-based learning leading to an opposition-based memetic algorithm; the second one improves the previous algorithm by applying the heuristic of two breakpoint elimination leading to a hybrid approach. Several experiments were performed with one-hundred randomly generated permutations, single benchmark permutations, and biological permutations. Results of the experiments showed that the proposed OBMA and Hybrid-OBMA algorithms achieve the best results for practical cases, that is, for permutations of length up to 120. Also, Hybrid-OBMA showed to improve the results of OBMA for permutations greater than or equal to 60. The applicability of our proposed algorithms was checked processing permutations based on biological data, in which case OBMA gave the best average results for all instances.

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