Theory of Evolutionary Computation pp 133-212 | Cite as

# Complexity Theory for Discrete Black-Box Optimization Heuristics

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## Abstract

A predominant topic in the theory of evolutionary algorithms and, more generally, theory of randomized black-box optimization techniques is *running-time analysis.* Running-time analysis is aimed at understanding the performance of a given heuristic on a given problem by bounding the number of function evaluations that are needed by the heuristic to identify a solution of a desired quality. As in general algorithms theory, this running-time perspective is most useful when it is complemented by a meaningful *complexity theory* that studies the limits of algorithmic solutions.

In the context of discrete black-box optimization, several *black-box complexity models* have been developed to analyze the best possible performance that a black-box optimization algorithm can achieve on a given problem. The models differ in the classes of algorithms to which these lower bounds apply. This way, black-box complexity contributes to a better understanding of how certain algorithmic choices (such as the amount of memory used by a heuristic, its selective pressure, or properties of the strategies that it uses to create new solution candidates) influence performance.

In this chapter we review the different black-box complexity models that have been proposed in the literature, survey the bounds that have been obtained for these models, and discuss how the interplay of running-time analysis and black-box complexity can inspire new algorithmic solutions to wellresearched problems in evolutionary computation. We also discuss in this chapter several interesting open questions for future work.