A General Dichotomy of Evolutionary Algorithms on Monotone Functions

It is known that the evolutionary algorithm $(1+1)$-EA with mutation rate $c/n$ optimises every monotone function efficiently if $c<1$, and needs exponential time on some monotone functions (HotTopic functions) if $c\geq 2.2$. We study the same question for a large variety of algorithms, particularly for $(1+\lambda)$-EA, $(\mu+1)$-EA, $(\mu+1)$-GA, their fast counterparts like fast $(1+1)$-EA, and for $(1+(\lambda,\lambda))$-GA. We find that all considered mutation-based algorithms show a similar dichotomy for HotTopic functions, or even for all monotone functions... For the $(1+(\lambda,\lambda))$-GA, this dichotomy is in the parameter $c\gamma$, which is the expected number of bit flips in an individual after mutation and crossover, neglecting selection. For the fast algorithms, the dichotomy is in $m_2/m_1$, where $m_1$ and $m_2$ are the first and second falling moment of the number of bit flips. Surprisingly, the range of efficient parameters is not affected by either population size $\mu$ nor by the offspring population size $\lambda$. The picture changes completely if crossover is allowed. The genetic algorithms $(\mu+1)$-GA and fast $(\mu+1)$-GA are efficient for arbitrary mutations strengths if $\mu$ is large enough. read more

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