We introduce the concept of Semantic Neutral Drift (SND) for genetic programming (GP), where we exploit equivalence laws to design semantics preserving mutations guaranteed to preserve individuals' fitness scores. A number of digital circuit benchmark problems have been implemented with rule-based graph programs and empirically evaluated, demonstrating quantitative improvements in evolutionary performance. Analysis reveals that the benefits of the designed SND reside in more complex processes than simple growth of individuals, and that there are circumstances where it is beneficial to choose otherwise detrimental parameters for a GP system if that facilitates the inclusion of SND.
doi:10.1007/s11047-019-09772-4 | view-only version | arXiv version
@article(Atkinson++2019-SND, author = "Timothy Atkinson and Detlef Plump and Susan Stepney", title = "Evolving graphs with semantic neutral drift", journal = "Natural Computing", volume = 20, number = 1, pages = "127-143", year = 2021 )