Parsimony pressure, the explicit penalization of larger programs, has been increasingly used as a means of controlling code growth in genetic programming. However, in many cases parsimony pressure degrades the performance of the genetic program. In this paper we show that poor average results with parsimony pressure are a result of “failed” populations that overshadow the results of populations that incorporate parsimony pressure successfully. Additionally, we show that the effect of parsimony pressure can be measured by calculating the relationship between program size and performance within the population. This measure can be used as a partial indicator of success or failure for individual populations.

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