Inducing Niching Behavior in Differential Evolution Through Local Information Sharing


In practical situations, it is very often desirable to detect multiple optimally sustainable solutions of an optimization problem. The population-based evolutionary multimodal optimization algorithms can be very helpful in such cases. They detect and maintain multiple optimal solutions during the run by incorporating specialized niching operations to aid the parallel localized convergence of population members around different basins of attraction. This paper presents an improved information-sharing mechanism among the individuals of an evolutionary algorithm for inducing efficient niching behavior. The mechanism can be integrated with stochastic real-parameter optimizers relying on differential perturbation of the individuals (candidate solutions) based on the population distribution. Various real-coded genetic algorithms (GAs), particle swarm optimization (PSO), and differential evolution (DE) fit the example of such algorithms. The main problem arising from differential perturbation is the unequal attraction toward the different basins of attraction that is detrimental to the objective of parallel convergence to multiple basins of attraction. We present our study through DE algorithm owing to its highly random nature of mutation and show how population diversity is preserved by modifying the basic perturbation (mutation) scheme through the use of random individuals selected probabilistically. By integrating the proposed technique with DE framework, we present three improved versions of well-known DE-based niching methods. Through an extensive experimental analysis, a statistically significant improvement in the overall performance has been observed upon integrating of our technique with the DE-based niching methods.