Evolution as a Service: A Privacy-Preserving Genetic Algorithm for Combinatorial Optimization

27 May 2022  ·  Bowen Zhao, Wei-neng Chen, Feng-Feng Wei, Ximeng Liu, Qingqi Pei, Jun Zhang ·

Evolutionary algorithms (EAs), such as the genetic algorithm (GA), offer an elegant way to handle combinatorial optimization problems (COPs). However, limited by expertise and resources, most users do not have enough capability to implement EAs to solve COPs. An intuitive and promising solution is to outsource evolutionary operations to a cloud server, whilst it suffers from privacy concerns. To this end, this paper proposes a novel computing paradigm, evolution as a service (EaaS), where a cloud server renders evolutionary computation services for users without sacrificing users' privacy. Inspired by the idea of EaaS, this paper designs PEGA, a novel privacy-preserving GA for COPs. Specifically, PEGA enables users outsourcing COPs to the cloud server holding a competitive GA and approximating the optimal solution in a privacy-preserving manner. PEGA features the following characteristics. First, any user without expertise and enough resources can solve her COPs. Second, PEGA does not leak contents of optimization problems, i.e., users' privacy. Third, PEGA has the same capability as the conventional GA to approximate the optimal solution. We implements PEGA falling in a twin-server architecture and evaluates it in the traveling salesman problem (TSP, a widely known COP). Particularly, we utilize encryption cryptography to protect users' privacy and carefully design a suit of secure computing protocols to support evolutionary operators of GA on encrypted data. Privacy analysis demonstrates that PEGA does not disclose the contents of the COP to the cloud server. Experimental evaluation results on four TSP datasets show that PEGA is as effective as the conventional GA in approximating the optimal solution.

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