A Co-evolutionary, Nature-Inspired Algorithm for the Concurrent Generation of Alternatives
Engineering optimization problems usually contain multifaceted performance requirements that can be riddled with unquantifiable specifications and incompatible performance objectives. Such problems typically possess competing design requirements which are very difficult – if not impossible – to quantify and capture at the time of model formulation. There are invariably unmodelled design issues, not apparent at the time of model construction, which can greatly impact the acceptability of the model’s solutions. Consequently, when solving many “real life” mathematical programming applications, it is generally preferable to formulate several quantifiably good alternatives that provide very different perspectives to the problem. These alternatives should possess near-optimal objective measures with respect to all known modelled objective(s), but be fundamentally different from each other in terms of the system structures characterized by their decision variables. This solution approach is referred to as modelling-to-generate-alternatives (MGA). This study demonstrates how the nature-inspired, Firefly Algorithm can be used to concurrently create multiple solution alternatives that both satisfy required system performance criteria and yet are maximally different in their decision spaces. This new co-evolutionary approach is very computationally efficient, since it permits the concurrent generation of multiple, good solution alternatives in a single computational run rather than the multiple implementations required in previous MGA procedures.
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