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J Theor Biol. 1990 Nov 7;147(1):59-84.

Genetic algorithms and evolution.

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Department of Zoology, Oxford University, U.K.


The genetic algorithm (GA) as developed by Holland (1975, Adaptation in Natural and Artificial Systems. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press) is an optimization technique based on natural selection. We use a modified version of this technique to investigate which aspects of natural selection make it an efficient search procedure. Our main modification to Holland's GA is the subdividing of the population into semi-isolated demes. We consider two examples. One is a fitness landscape with many local optima. The other is a model of singing in birds that has been previously analysed using dynamic programming. Both examples have epistatic interactions. In the first example we show that the GA can find the global optimum and that its success is improved by subdividing the population. In the second example we show that GAs can evolve to the optimal policy found by dynamic programming.

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