newsletter of the ACM Special Interest Group on Genetic and Evolutionary Computation
Welcome to the Autumn 2021 issue of the SIGEvolution newsletter! We start with a summary of the Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference, GECCO 2021, which was held virtually in July with the local organising team based in Lille, France. We continue with an overview of the 18th Annual Human-Competitive Results Awards (Humies), a competition that awards $10,000 in cash prizes for computational results that are deemed to be competitive with results produced by human beings, but are automatically generated with evolutionary algorithms. Our third contribution features the results of the 2021 SIGEVO best dissertation award, which was created in 2019 to recognize excellent thesis research by doctoral candidates in the field of evolutionary computation. We conclude by announcing recent awards, events and forthcoming calls for papers.
Please get in touch if you would like to contribute an article for a future issue or have suggestions for the newsletter.
Gabriela Ochoa, Editor.
GECCO 2021: Summary and Statistics
Historical evolution of GECCO
The Bronze Award and $2,000 went to Daniel Blasco, Jaime Font, Mar Zamorano, and Carlos Cetina, all of Universidad San Jorge, Zaragoza, Spain. Their entry was entitled “An Evolutionary Approach for Generating Software Models: The Case of Kromaia in Game Software Engineering.” They used an Evolutionary Model Generation (EmoGen) approach to generate software models comparable in quality to the models created by human developers, in a tiny fraction of the time—humans take ten months to create a “boss” for the Kromaia game that is appropriate in interest and difficulty for a level in the game, whereas their program generated equivalently challenging bosses in five hours. These bosses each have more than 1000 model elements, so the problem is challenging. Here is the video presentation.
See any of the finalists’ videos and papers and entry forms at www.human-competitive.org. And start preparing your own best human-competitive work for the 2022 Humies competition at GECCO next July! Any questions? Contact me, Erik Goodman, firstname.lastname@example.org.
ACM SIGEVO Best Dissertation Award 2021
Manuel López-Ibáñez, University of Málaga, Spain
The SIGEVO Best Dissertation Award was created in 2019 to recognize excellent thesis research by doctoral candidates in the field of evolutionary computing. Doctoral dissertation awards are given by other Special Interest Groups of ACM, such as SIGCOMM, SIGKDD, SIGARCH, and others. The SIGEVO Best Dissertation Award will be given annually to a maximum of 1 winner and a maximum of 2 honorable mentions. The award presentation will take place at the awards ceremony of GECCO. The award carries a monetary value of $1,000 contributed by SIGEVO to be awarded to the winner. The award winner and honorable mentions will each receive a plaque.
Dissertations are reviewed by a selection committee for the technical depth and significance of the research contribution, the potential impact on the field of evolutionary computing, and the quality of presentation. This year, the members of the selection committee were:
Kenneth De Jong
The committee received and reviewed 6 nominations this year, in topics as diverse as multi-objective optimization, evolutionary design, theory of evolutionary algorithms, evolutionary clustering, computational biology, and genetic programming.
The winner of the 2021 SIGEVO Best Dissertation Award is “Design and Application of Gene-pool Optimal Mixing Evolutionary Algorithms for Genetic Programming” by Marco Virgolin from Delft University of Technology (The Netherlands) with the following citation from the selection committee:
“This dissertation introduces significant innovations in model-based genetic programming (GP) enabling the efficient discovery of compact and accurate solutions, which is key for supporting explainable Artificial Intelligence. In collaboration with medical researchers, the proposed innovations are applied successfully to improve historical 3D-dose reconstruction in radiation oncology which is used to design more effective treatments for cancer patients. This work is a stellar example of the positive real-world impact of Evolutionary Computation.”
In addition to the winner, the committee decided to award two honorary mentions due to their high quality.
The first honorary mention is given to “Methods for Tight Analysis of Population-based Evolutionary Algorithms” by Denis Antipov from the Institut Polytechnique de Paris (France) with the following citation:
“This dissertation significantly advances the state of the art in our mathematical understanding of how the parameters of an evolutionary algorithm influence its performance. Four novel analytical tools are proposed that have the potential of leading to new developments in the theory of evolutionary computation, beyond the results already obtained here. Among other results, the analysis in this work shows that heavy-tailed random parameter choices can give excellent performance over static parameter choices even for more complicated algorithms with several parameters. This result suggests elegant algorithmic strategies to address the notoriously difficult problem of online parameter control.”
The second honorary mention was given to “Accelerating Evolutionary Design Exploration with Predictive and Generative Models” by Adam Gaier from the Université de Lorraine (France) with the following citation:
“The dissertation introduces new algorithms and a novel data-driven encoding approach that vastly improve the efficiency and real-world applicability of quality-diversity (QD) algorithms. The proposals represent foundational work on the integration of quality-diversity (QD) and machine learning (ML). These proposals are evaluated in real-world examples including aerodynamics design. The results are an important step in engineering and industrial design exploration.”
The next edition of the award will welcome dissertations defended between January and December of 2021. The deadline for submitting nominations is February 1st, 2022. More information is available at: https://sig.sigevo.org/index.html/SIGEVO+Dissertation+Award
We encourage you to disseminate this information among your colleagues and students! We are looking forward to your nominations!
Darrell Whitley Awarded as the 2022 Evolutionary Computation Pioneer
We asked Darrell: What do you see as some of your early contributions?
Here is his answer:
“One of my early contributions was the development of the Steady State Genetic Algorithm, which was supported by the release of the GENITOR programming environment for genetic algorithms. GENITOR first appeared in 1988. GENITOR was widely downloaded and used in the 1990s. The name steady-state genetic algorithm came after GENITOR, during a lunch between ME, Dave Davis, and Gil Sysweda in 1990 at the first FOGA workshop. Another important aspect of GENITOR was the use of ranked-based selection. Virtually all genetic algorithms used fitness proportional selection at the time. "
"I also did some of the earliest work applying genetic algorithms to real-world resource scheduling problems. I have continued to work on real-world scheduling applications over my entire career.
This proved that one cannot rely on hyperplane averages to infer globally optimal solutions. One still sees papers that make exaggerated claims about the optimal sampling properties of genetic algorithms that are not supported by the theory. "
Joint Lectures on Evolutionary Algorithms (JoLEA)
From left to right, top to bottom: Thomas Bäck (Leiden University), Peter A.N. Bosman (CWI), Gusz Eiben (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam), Dirk Thierens (Utrecht University), Arkadiy Dushatskiy (CWI), Anna Kononova (Leiden University), Jacob P. de Nobel (Leiden University), Marco Virgolin (CWI).
JoLEA is an initiative that was born in 2021 in the Netherlands, aimed at disseminating high-quality research on evolutionary algorithms. JoLEA events take place every two months. Speakers alternate between world-renowned senior researchers, who provide a lecture on their established research line, and junior researchers (PhD students, postdocs, etc.), who present and discuss their latest and work-in-progress research results.
Anton Bouter (left), Roy de Winter (right), and images representing the applications tackled by their EAs (middle)
The first lecture took place on 15-09-2021, featuring scientific software developer and PhD candidate Anton Bouter from CWI with “Optimal Mixing Evolutionary Algorithms for Large-Scale Real-Valued Optimization”, and PhD candidate Roy de Winter from Leiden University with “Constrained Multi-Objective Ship Design Optimization with a Limited budget of Function Evaluations”.
Calls for Papers
Conference: April 20th to 22nd, 2022
About this Newsletter
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Editor: Gabriela Ochoa
Sub-editor: James McDermott
Associate Editors: Emma Hart, Una-May O'Reilly, Nadarajen Veerapen, and Darrell Whitley