• Characterizing Dynamic Optimization Benchmarks for the Comparison of Multi-Modal Tracking Algorithms

      Bond, Ron; Department of Computer Science
      Population-based metaheuristics, such as particle swarm optimization (PSO), have been employed to solve many real-world optimization problems. Although it is of- ten sufficient to find a single solution to these problems, there does exist those cases where identifying multiple, diverse solutions can be beneficial or even required. Some of these problems are further complicated by a change in their objective function over time. This type of optimization is referred to as dynamic, multi-modal optimization. Algorithms which exploit multiple optima in a search space are identified as niching algorithms. Although numerous dynamic, niching algorithms have been developed, their performance is often measured solely on their ability to find a single, global optimum. Furthermore, the comparisons often use synthetic benchmarks whose landscape characteristics are generally limited and unknown. This thesis provides a landscape analysis of the dynamic benchmark functions commonly developed for multi-modal optimization. The benchmark analysis results reveal that the mechanisms responsible for dynamism in the current dynamic bench- marks do not significantly affect landscape features, thus suggesting a lack of representation for problems whose landscape features vary over time. This analysis is used in a comparison of current niching algorithms to identify the effects that specific landscape features have on niching performance. Two performance metrics are proposed to measure both the scalability and accuracy of the niching algorithms. The algorithm comparison results demonstrate the algorithms best suited for a variety of dynamic environments. This comparison also examines each of the algorithms in terms of their niching behaviours and analyzing the range and trade-off between scalability and accuracy when tuning the algorithms respective parameters. These results contribute to the understanding of current niching techniques as well as the problem features that ultimately dictate their success.