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An assessment of the component-based view for metaheuristic research.

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Several authors have recently pointed to a crisis within the metaheuristic research field, particularly the proliferation of metaphor-inspired metaheuristics. Common problems identified include using non-standard terminology, poor experimental practices, and, most importantly, the introduction of purportedly new algorithms that are only superficially different from existing ones. These issues make similarity and performance analysis, classification, and metaheuristic generation difficult for both practitioners and researchers. A component-based view of metaheuristics has recently been promoted to deal with these problems. A component based view argues that metaheuristics are best understood in terms of their constituents or components. This dissertation presents three papers that are thematically centred on this view. The central problem for the component-based view is the identification of components of a metaheuristic. The first paper proposes the use of taxonomies to guide the identification of metaheuristic components. We developed a general and rigorous method, TAXONOG-IMC, that takes as input an appropriate taxonomy and guides the user to identify components. The method is described in detail, an example application of the method is given, and an analysis of its usefulness is provided. The analysis shows that the method is effective and provides insights that are not possible without the proper identification of the components. The second paper argues for formal, mathematically sound representations of metaheuristics. It introduces and defends a formal representation that leverages the component based view. The third paper demonstrates that a representation technique based on a component based view is able to provide the basis for a similarity measure. This paper presents a method of measuring similarity between two metaheuristic-algorithms, based on their representations as signal flow diagrams. Our findings indicate that the component based view of metaheuristics provides valuable insights and allows for more robust analysis, classification and comparison.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.