What are some methods to maintain population diversity in genetic algorithm (binary, linear constraints)?
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I am using the built in ga() function to solve a problem whose solution is represented by a binary vector of length ~300. There are no nonlinear constraints. The linear constraint matrix contains roughly the same order (a few hundred) of linear constraints.
The problem I'm observing is that almost the entire population frequently converges to the same or almost the same fitness as the best solution, and will stay that way for ~10-20 generations before a new better solution is found and the population diversifies again. I assume this is accomplished by a mutation, or occasionally by an elite member crossing over with another solution if the population is not entirely uniform. These generations appear to mostly be wasted run time though. Does the population check to make sure it only crosses over distinct individuals?
There do not appear to be a lot of options when dealing with linear constraints and an integer problem, other than changing the crossover fraction and elite count.
The initial population is a custom created random set that satisfies the linear constraints. An example run is shown below. The solution is far from optimal. The bottom plot looks completely or almost completely flat during the generations when the best/mean penalty values are coincident. You can also see how the distance between population members tends to converge toward zero. I'm confused why the Average Distance appears to be so high when the best/mean converge between generations 10 and 25.
Shruti Shivaramakrishnan on 14 Jun 2017
I believe the following link might prove helpful to understand a bit more about the population diversity in MATLAB: https://www.mathworks.com/help/gads/population-diversity.html