Evolutionary neural networks : models and applications
The scaling problems which afflict attempts to optimise neural networks (NNs) with genetic algorithms (GAs) are disclosed. A novel GA-NN hybrid is introduced, based on the bumptree, a little-used connectionist model. As well as being computationally efficient, the bumptree is shown to be more amenable to genetic coding lthan other NN models. A hierarchical genetic coding scheme is developed for the bumptree and shown to have low redundancy, as well as being complete and closed with respect to the search space. When applied to optimising bumptree architectures for classification problems the GA discovers bumptrees which significantly out-perform those constructed using a standard algorithm. The fields of artificial life, control and robotics are identified as likely application areas for the evolutionary optimisation of NNs. An artificial life case-study is presented and discussed. Experiments are reported which show that the GA-bumptree is able to learn simulated pole balancing and car parking tasks using only limited environmental feedback. A simple modification of the fitness function allows the GA-bumptree to learn mappings which are multi-modal, such as robot arm inverse kinematics. The dynamics of the 'geographic speciation' selection model used by the GA-bumptree are investigated empirically and the convergence profile is introduced as an analytical tool. The relationships between the rate of genetic convergence and the phenomena of speciation, genetic drift and punctuated equilibrium arc discussed. The importance of genetic linkage to GA design is discussed and two new recombination operators arc introduced. The first, linkage mapped crossover (LMX) is shown to be a generalisation of existing crossover operators. LMX provides a new framework for incorporating prior knowledge into GAs. Its adaptive form, ALMX, is shown to be able to infer linkage relationships automatically during genetic search.