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Exploration and exploitation in evolutionary algorithms

“Exploration and exploitation are the two cornerstones of problem solving by search.” For more than a decade, Eiben and Schippers' advocacy for balancing between these two antagonistic cornerstones still greatly influences the research directions of evolutionary algorithms (EAs) [1998]. This article revisits nearly 100 existing works and surveys how such works have answered the advocacy. The article introduces a fresh treatment that classifies and discusses existing work within three rational aspects: (1) what and how EA components contribute to exploration and exploitation; (2) when and how exploration and exploitation are controlled; and (3) how balance between exploration and exploitation is achieved. With a more comprehensive and systematic understanding of exploration and exploitation, more research in this direction may be motivated and refined.

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