Designing Automatically a Representation for Grammatical Evolution

posted Jul 5, 2018, 5:54 AM by Eric Medvet   [ updated Jul 5, 2018, 5:55 AM ]
  • Genetic Programming and Evolvable Machines (GENP), 2018, to appear
  • Eric Medvet, Alberto Bartoli, Andrea De Lorenzo, Fabiano Tarlao
A long-standing problem in Evolutionary Computation consists in how to choose an appropriate representation for the solutions. In this work we investigate the feasibility of synthesizing a representation automatically, for the large class of problems whose solution spaces can be defined by a context-free grammar. We propose a framework based on a form of meta-evolution in which individuals are candidate representations expressed with an ad hoc language that we have developed to this purpose. Individuals compete and evolve according to an evolutionary search aimed at optimizing such representation properties as redundancy, uniformity of redundancy, and locality. We assessed experimentally three variants of our framework on established benchmark problems and compared the resulting representations to human-designed representations commonly used (e.g., classical Grammatical Evolution). The results are promising as the evolved representations indeed exhibit better properties than the human-designed ones. Furthermore, the evolved representations compare favorably with the human-designed baselines in search effectiveness as well. Specifically, we select a best evolved representation as the representation with best search effectiveness on a set of learning problems and assess its effectiveness on a separate set of challenging validation problems. For each of the three proposed variants of our framework, the best evolved representation exhibits an average fitness rank on the set of validation problems that is better than the average fitness rank of the human-designed baselines on the same problems.