Evolutionary Computation

Definition of Evolutionary Computation

Evolutionary computation is a subfield of artificial intelligence that harnesses the principles of Darwinian natural selection to develop algorithms or models that can evolve and adapt over time. It typically involves the use of techniques like genetic algorithms, evolutionary strategies, and genetic programming to optimize problem-solving and decision-making in complex environments. The process mimics biological evolution, as solutions compete and improve through iterations of mutation, crossover, and selection.


The phonetic transcription of the keyword “Evolutionary Computation” would be:/ɪˌvɒl.juˈʃə.nər.i kəmˌpjuːˈteɪ.ʃən/Breaking it down:- Evolutionary: /ɪˌvɒl.juˈʃə.nər.i/- Computation: /kəmˌpjuːˈteɪ.ʃən/

Key Takeaways

  1. Evolutionary Computation is a family of algorithms inspired by the process of natural selection, which uses concepts from biology such as mutation, crossover, and selection to optimize a solution for a given problem.
  2. These algorithms have broad applications, including optimization, machine learning, robotics, and artificial intelligence, due to their ability to adapt to different problems and search spaces.
  3. Common types of Evolutionary Computation techniques include Genetic Algorithms, Evolutionary Strategies, Genetic Programming, and Swarm Intelligence, each with its specific implementation and strengths in diverse domains.

Importance of Evolutionary Computation

Evolutionary Computation is an important technology term as it represents a family of intelligent optimization algorithms inspired by the process of natural selection, including Genetic Algorithms, Genetic Programming, and other evolution-based techniques.

These algorithms can find near-optimal solutions to a multitude of complex problems that would be difficult or impossible to solve using other traditional methods.

By incorporating elements of biological evolution, such as mutation, crossover, and selection, evolutionary computation has revolutionized the field of artificial intelligence, demonstrating a high level of adaptiveness, robustness, and success in diverse domains such as engineering, finance, robotics, and healthcare.

Its significance is further underscored by the fact that it can lead to innovative solutions that might not have been discovered through conventional methods, thereby greatly contributing to the advancement of science and the improvement of real-world applications.


Evolutionary Computation (EC) is a field within artificial intelligence that revolves around applying nature-inspired optimization techniques to solve complex computational problems. The driving purpose of this approach is to take advantage of the powerful adaptive mechanisms exhibited by natural evolutionary processes, such as genetics, mutation, and natural selection, to create and refine efficient algorithms. Utilizing these concepts enable researchers to develop optimization methodologies to address a broad range of multi-objective problems in various industries, including engineering, data analysis, and prediction modeling, among others.

By mimicking the ability of natural evolutionary systems to adapt and evolve, EC offers a robust framework for discovering optimal or near-optimal solutions in a multitude of problem domains. In practice, the implementation of Evolutionary Computation techniques typically involves the automatic generation, testing, and evolution of potential solutions. Using Genetic Algorithms (GAs), one of the most popular types of EC, candidate solutions are encoded as strings or chromosomes, and evaluated based on a fitness function that quantifies how well they perform in addressing problem objectives.

Evolutionary processes such as crossover, mutation, and selection are applied to the population of these chromosomes, promoting the generation of offspring that gradually improve and converge to optimal solutions. EC has found widespread applications in diverse fields, including constrained optimization, multi-objective optimization, morphogenesis, evolutionary based design, vehicle routing, and game playing strategy optimization, to name a few. This adaptability and expansive applicability renders Evolutionary Computation as a powerful tool in both digital and physical realms, contributing to the fluidity, efficiency, and innovation of contemporary computational systems.

Examples of Evolutionary Computation

Traffic Signal Optimization: In cities and urban areas, managing the flow of traffic efficiently is crucial to reduce congestion and travel times. Evolutionary computation techniques, such as Genetic Algorithms, are used to optimize complex traffic signal systems based on various performance measures like waiting time, vehicle throughput, and pedestrian safety. For example, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, researchers utilized evolutionary computation to optimize traffic signal timings across the city, leading to a significant overall reduction in travel times.

Medical Diagnostics and Treatment Planning: Evolutionary computation has been successfully applied for the development of medical diagnostics and personalized treatment plans. Genetic Programming (GP), an aspect of evolutionary computation, was employed to diagnose several medical conditions like cancer, heart disease, and liver disorders based on patient data. Additionally, evolutionary algorithms have also been used to optimize radiotherapy treatments, striking a balance between efficiently targeting cancerous cells and minimizing radiation exposure to healthy tissue. The ARES (Adaptive Radiotherapy Evolutionary System) software is one such example where an evolutionary algorithm designs better radiotherapy plans for cancer patients.

Robot Learning and Control: Evolutionary computation is used to create innovative robot designs, evolving both their body structures and control mechanisms. The Resilient Machines Project at MIT, for instance, used an evolutionary algorithm to develop a robot with unique problem-solving abilities. The algorithm was able to adapt and optimize the robot’s behavior independently of its functionality, allowing it to perform tasks like walking, carrying objects, and climbing obstacles. This process significantly reduces the manual effort required to optimize a robot’s performance, particularly in environments where traditional programming methods might prove to be insufficient.

FAQ – Evolutionary Computation

What is Evolutionary Computation?

Evolutionary Computation is a sub-field of artificial intelligence that involves designing algorithms inspired by biological evolution processes. These algorithms are used for optimizing and solving complex problems by mimicking the principles of natural selection, mutation, and recombination.

What are the main components of Evolutionary Computation?

The main components of Evolutionary Computation are selection, variation (mutation and crossover), and reproduction. These components work together to produce successive generations of potential solutions, with each generation getting closer to the optimal solution for a given problem.

What are the types of Evolutionary Computation algorithms?

There are four major types of Evolutionary Computation algorithms: Genetic Algorithms, Genetic Programming, Evolutionary Strategies, and Evolutionary Programming. Each of these algorithms employs different approaches and techniques to solve optimization problems and evolve solutions.

What are the advantages of Evolutionary Computation?

Evolutionary Computation offers several advantages, such as the ability to find global optima, adaptability to dynamic environments, suitability for parallel processing, and applicability to a wide range of complex problems in various domains.

What are some applications of Evolutionary Computation?

Evolutionary Computation has been widely applied in various fields, including optimization, machine learning, robotics, natural language processing, bioinformatics, game playing, scheduling, and many other problem-solving tasks.

Related Technology Terms

  • Genetic Algorithms
  • Evolutionary Strategies
  • Genetic Programming
  • Particle Swarm Optimization
  • Differential Evolution

Sources for More Information


About The Authors

The DevX Technology Glossary is reviewed by technology experts and writers from our community. Terms and definitions continue to go under updates to stay relevant and up-to-date. These experts help us maintain the almost 10,000+ technology terms on DevX. Our reviewers have a strong technical background in software development, engineering, and startup businesses. They are experts with real-world experience working in the tech industry and academia.

See our full expert review panel.

These experts include:


About Our Editorial Process

At DevX, we’re dedicated to tech entrepreneurship. Our team closely follows industry shifts, new products, AI breakthroughs, technology trends, and funding announcements. Articles undergo thorough editing to ensure accuracy and clarity, reflecting DevX’s style and supporting entrepreneurs in the tech sphere.

See our full editorial policy.

More Technology Terms

Technology Glossary

Table of Contents