A Case Study of Controlling Crossover in a Selection Hyper-heuristic Framework Using the Multidimensional Knapsack Problem.
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Hyper-heuristics are high-level methodologies for solving complex problems that operate on a search space of heuristics. In a selection hyper-heuristic framework, a heuristic is chosen from an existing set of low-level heuristics and applied to the current solution to produce a new solution at each point in the search. The use of crossover low-level heuristics is possible in an increasing number of general-purpose hyper-heuristic tools such as HyFlex and Hyperion. However, little work has been undertaken to assess how best to utilise it. Since a single-point search hyper-heuristic operates on a single candidate solution, and two candidate solutions are required for crossover, a mechanism is required to control the choice of the other solution. The frameworks we propose maintain a list of potential solutions for use in crossover. We investigate the use of such lists at two conceptual levels. First, crossover is controlled at the hyper-heuristic level where no problem-specific information is required. Second, it is controlled at the problem domain level where problem-specific information is used to produce good-quality solutions to use in crossover. A number of selection hyper-heuristics are compared using these frameworks over three benchmark libraries with varying properties for an NP-hard optimisation problem: the multidimensional 0-1 knapsack problem. It is shown that allowing crossover to be managed at the domain level outperforms managing crossover at the hyper-heuristic level in this problem domain.