Problem-specific knowledge is often implemented in search algorithms using heuristics to determine which search paths are to be explored at any given instant. As in other search methods, utilizing this knowledge will more quickly lead a genetic algorithm (GA) towards better results. In many problems, crucial knowledge is not found in individual components, but in the interrelations between those components. For such problems, we develop an interrelation (linkage) based crossover operator that has the advantage of liberating GAs from the constraints imposed by the fixed representations generally chosen for problems. The strength of linkages between components of a chromosomal structure can be explicitly represented in a linkage matrix and used in the reproduction step to generate new individuals. For some problems, such a linkage matrix is known a priorifrom the nature of the problem. In other cases, the linkage matrix may be learned by successive minor adaptations during the execution of the evolutionary algorithm. This paper demonstrates the success of such an approach for several problems.

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