This example shows how to create and manage options for the genetic algorithm function `ga`

using `gaoptimset`

in the Global Optimization Toolbox.

**Setting Up a Problem for ga**

`ga`

searches for a minimum of a function using the genetic algorithm. For this example we will use `ga`

to minimize the fitness function SHUFCN. SHUFCN is a real valued function of two variables.

We can use the function PLOTOBJECTIVE in the toolbox to plot the function SHUFCN over the range = [-2 2;-2 2].

plotobjective(@shufcn,[-2 2; -2 2]);

To use the `ga`

solver, we need to provide at least two input arguments, a fitness function and the number of variables in the problem. The first two output arguments returned by `ga`

are x, the best point found, and Fval, the function value at the best point. A third output argument, exitFlag tells you the reason why `ga`

stopped. `ga`

can also return a fourth argument, Output, which contains information about the performance of the solver.

FitnessFunction = @shufcn; numberOfVariables = 2;

Run the `ga`

solver.

[x,Fval,exitFlag,Output] = ga(FitnessFunction,numberOfVariables); fprintf('The number of generations was : %d\n', Output.generations); fprintf('The number of function evaluations was : %d\n', Output.funccount); fprintf('The best function value found was : %g\n', Fval);

Optimization terminated: average change in the fitness value less than options.TolFun. The number of generations was : 124 The number of function evaluations was : 6250 The best function value found was : -186.199

Note that when you run this example, your result may be different from the results shown; This will be explained in a section later in this example.

**How the Genetic Algorithm Works**

The Genetic Algorithm works on a population using a set of operators that are applied to the population. A population is a set of points in the design space. The initial population is generated randomly by default. The next generation of the population is computed using the fitness of the individuals in the current generation.

**Adding Visualization**

`ga`

can accept one or more plot functions through an OPTIONS argument. This feature is useful for visualizing the performance of the solver at run time. Plot functions can be selected using `gaoptimset`

. The help for `gaoptimset`

contains a list of plot functions to choose from.

Here we use `gaoptimset`

to create an options structure to select two plot functions. The first plot function is GAPLOTBESTF, which plots the best and mean score of the population at every generation. The second plot function is GAPLOTSTOPPING, which plots the percentage of stopping criteria satisfied.

```
opts = gaoptimset('PlotFcns',{@gaplotbestf,@gaplotstopping});
```

Run the `ga`

solver.

```
[x,Fval,exitFlag,Output] = ...
ga(FitnessFunction,numberOfVariables,[],[],[],[],[],[],[],opts);
```

Optimization terminated: average change in the fitness value less than options.TolFun.

**Specifying Population Options**

The default initial population is created using a uniform random number generator. Default values for the population size and the range of the initial population are used to create the initial population.

**Specify a population size**

The default population size used by `ga`

is 20. This may not be sufficient for problems with a large number of variables; a smaller population size may be sufficient for smaller problems. Since we only have two variables, we specify a population size of 10. We will pass our options structure 'opts', created above, to `gaoptimset`

to modify the value of the parameter 'PopulationSize' to be 10.

```
opts = gaoptimset(opts,'PopulationSize',10);
```

**Specify initial population range**

The initial population is generated using a uniform random number generator in a default range of [0;1]. This creates an initial population where all the points are in the range 0 to 1. For example, a population of size 3 in a problem with two variables could look like:

Population = rand(3,2)

Population = 0.0149 0.0858 0.3852 0.9966 0.3954 0.4020

The initial range can be set by changing the 'PopInitRange' option using `gaoptimset`

. The range must be a matrix with two rows. If the range has only one column, i.e., it is 2-by-1, then the range of every variable is the given range. For example, if we set the range to [-1; 1], then the initial range for both our variables is -1 to 1. To specify a different initial range for each variable, the range must be specified as a matrix with two rows and 'numberOfVariables' columns. For example if we set the range to [-1 0; 1 2], then the first variable will be in the range -1 to 1, and the second variable will be in the range 0 to 2 (so each column corresponds to a variable).

The initial range can be specified using `gaoptimset`

. We will pass our options structure 'opts' created above to `gaoptimset`

to modify the value of the parameter 'PopInitRange'.

```
opts = gaoptimset(opts,'PopInitRange',[-1 0;1 2]);
```

Run the `ga`

solver.

[x,Fval,exitFlag,Output] = ga(FitnessFunction,numberOfVariables,[],[],[], ... [],[],[],[],opts); fprintf('The number of generations was : %d\n', Output.generations); fprintf('The number of function evaluations was : %d\n', Output.funccount); fprintf('The best function value found was : %g\n', Fval);

Optimization terminated: average change in the fitness value less than options.TolFun. The number of generations was : 67 The number of function evaluations was : 680 The best function value found was : -179.987

**Reproducing Your Results**

By default, `ga`

starts with a random initial population which is created using MATLAB® random number generators. The next generation is produced using `ga`

operators that also use these same random number generators. Every time a random number is generated, the state of the random number generators change. This means that even if you do not change any options, when you run again you may get different results.

Here we run the solver twice to show this phenomenon.

Run the `ga`

solver.

```
[x,Fval,exitFlag,Output] = ga(FitnessFunction,numberOfVariables);
fprintf('The best function value found was : %g\n', Fval);
```

Optimization terminated: average change in the fitness value less than options.TolFun. The best function value found was : -186.484

Run `ga`

again.

```
[x,Fval,exitFlag,Output] = ga(FitnessFunction,numberOfVariables);
fprintf('The best function value found was : %g\n', Fval);
```

Optimization terminated: average change in the fitness value less than options.TolFun. The best function value found was : -185.867

In the previous two runs `ga`

might give different results. The results are different because the states of the random number generators have changed from one run to another.

We can reproduce our results if we reset the states of the random number generators by using information returned by `ga`

. `ga`

returns the states of the random number generators at the time you call `ga`

in the output argument. This information can be used to reset the states. Here we reset the states using this output information so the results of the next two runs are the same.

Run the `ga`

solver.

```
[x,Fval,exitFlag,Output] = ga(FitnessFunction,numberOfVariables);
fprintf('The best function value found was : %g\n', Fval);
```

Optimization terminated: average change in the fitness value less than options.TolFun. The best function value found was : -186.467

Reset the state.

RandStream.getGlobalStream.State = Output.rngstate.state;

Run `ga`

again.

```
[x,Fval,exitFlag,Output] = ga(FitnessFunction,numberOfVariables);
fprintf('The best function value found was : %g\n', Fval);
```

Optimization terminated: average change in the fitness value less than options.TolFun. The best function value found was : -185.906

**Modifying the Stopping Criteria**

`ga`

uses four different criteria to determine when to stop the solver. `ga`

stops when the maximum number of generations is reached; by default this number is 100. `ga`

also detects if there is no change in the best fitness value for some time given in seconds (stall time limit), or for some number of generations (stall generation limit). Another criteria is the maximum time limit in seconds. Here we modify the stopping criteria to increase the maximum number of generations to 150 and the stall generations limit to 100.

opts = gaoptimset(opts,'Generations',150,'StallGenLimit', 100);

Run the `ga`

solver again.

[x,Fval,exitFlag,Output] = ga(FitnessFunction,numberOfVariables,[],[],[], ... [],[],[],[],opts); fprintf('The number of generations was : %d\n', Output.generations); fprintf('The number of function evaluations was : %d\n', Output.funccount); fprintf('The best function value found was : %g\n', Fval);

Optimization terminated: maximum number of generations exceeded. The number of generations was : 150 The number of function evaluations was : 1510 The best function value found was : -186.708

**Choosing ga Operators**

`ga`

starts with a random set of points in the population and uses operators to produce the next generation of the population. The different operators are scaling, selection, crossover, and mutation. The toolbox provides several functions to choose from for each operator. Here we choose FITSCALINGPROP for 'FitnessScalingFcn' and SELECTIONTOURNAMENT for 'SelectionFcn'.

opts = gaoptimset('SelectionFcn',@selectiontournament, ... 'FitnessScalingFcn',@fitscalingprop);

Run the `ga`

solver.

[x,Fval,exitFlag,Output] = ga(FitnessFunction,numberOfVariables,[],[],[], ... [],[],[],[],opts); fprintf('The number of generations was : %d\n', Output.generations); fprintf('The number of function evaluations was : %d\n', Output.funccount); fprintf('The best function value found was : %g\n', Fval);

Optimization terminated: average change in the fitness value less than options.TolFun. The number of generations was : 54 The number of function evaluations was : 2750 The best function value found was : -171.086

The best function value may improve or it may get worse by choosing different operators. Choosing a good set of operators for your problem is often best done by experimentation. The OPTIMTOOL provides a wonderful environment for easily experimenting with different options and then trying them out by running the `ga`

solver.

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