When it comes to solving optimization problems with evolutionary algorithms (EAs) in a reliable and scalable manner, detecting and exploiting linkage information, i.e., dependencies between variables, can be key.

In this article, we present the latest version of, and propose substantial enhancements to, the Gene-pool Optimal Mixing Evoutionary Algorithm (GOMEA): an EA explicitly designed to estimate and exploit linkage information. We begin by performing a largescale search over several GOMEA design choices to understand what matters most and obtain a generally best-performing version of the algorithm. Next, we introduce a novel version of GOMEA, called CGOMEA, where linkage-based variation is further improved by filtering solution mating based on conditional dependencies.

We compare our latest version of GOMEA, the newly introduced CGOMEA, and another contending linkage-aware EA, DSMGA-II, in an extensive experimental evaluation, involving a benchmark set of 9 black-box problems that can only be solved efficiently if their inherent dependency structure is unveiled and exploited. Finally, in an attempt to make EAs more usable and resilient to parameter choices, we investigate the performance of different automatic population management schemes for GOMEA and CGOMEA, de facto making the EAs parameterless. Our results show that GOMEA and CGOMEA significantly outperform the original GOMEA and DSMGA-II on most problems, setting a new state of the art for the field.

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