Niching methods have been developed to maintain the population diversity, to investigate many peaks in parallel, and to reduce the effect of genetic drift. We present the first rigorous runtime analyses of restricted tournament selection (RTS), embedded in a ( μ + 1) EA, and analyse its effectiveness at finding both optima of the bimodal function TwoMax . In RTS, an offspring competes against the closest individual, with respect to some distance measure, amongst w (window size) population members (chosen uniformly at random with replacement), to encourage competition within the same niche. We prove that RTS finds both optima on TwoMax efficiently if the window size w is large enough. However, if w is too small, RTS fails to find both optima even in exponential time, with high probability. We further consider a variant of RTS selecting individuals for the tournament without replacement. It yields a more diverse tournament and is more effective at preventing one niche from taking over the other. However, this comes at the expense of a slower progress towards optima when a niche collapses to a single individual. Our theoretical results are accompanied by experimental studies that shed light on parameters not covered by the theoretical results and support a conjectured lower runtime bound.
Clearing is a niching method inspired by the principle of assigning the available resources among a niche to a single individual. The clearing procedure supplies these resources only to the best individual of each niche: the winner. So far, its analysis has been focused on experimental approaches that have shown that clearing is a powerful diversity-preserving mechanism. Using rigorous runtime analysis to explain how and why it is a powerful method, we prove that a mutation-based evolutionary algorithm with a large enough population size, and a phenotypic distance function always succeeds in optimising all functions of unitation for small niches in polynomial time, while a genotypic distance function requires exponential time. Finally, we prove that with phenotypic and genotypic distances, clearing is able to find both optima for T w o M a x and several general classes of bimodal functions in polynomial expected time. We use empirical analysis to highlight some of the characteristics that makes it a useful mechanism and to support the theoretical results.