Parameter tuning evolutionary algorithms for runtime versus cost trade-off

Updated: Sep 17, 2021

Andersson, M., & Ng, A. H. C. (2018). Parameter Tuning Evolutionary Algorithms for Runtime versus Cost Trade-off in a Cloud Computing Environment. Simulation Modelling Practice and Theory, 89, 195–205.


The runtime of an evolutionary algorithm can be reduced by increasing the number of parallel evaluations. However, increasing the number of parallel evaluations can also result in wasted computational effort since there is a greater probability of creating solutions that do not contribute to convergence towards the global optimum. A trade-off, therefore, arises between the runtime and computational effort for different levels of parallelization of an evolutionary algorithm. When the computational effort is translated into cost, the trade-off can be restated as runtime versus cost. This trade-off is particularly relevant for cloud computing environments where the computing resources can be exactly matched to the level of parallelization of the algorithm, and the cost is proportional to the runtime and how many instances that are used. This paper empirically investigates this trade-off for two different evolutionary algorithms, NSGA-II and differential evolution (DE) when applied to a multi-objective discrete-event simulation (DES) problem. Both generational and steady-state asynchronous versions of both algorithms are included. The approach is to perform parameter tuning on a simplified version of the DES model. A subset of the best configurations from each tuning experiment is then evaluated on a cloud computing platform. The results indicate that, for the included DES problem, the steady-state asynchronous version of each algorithm provides a better runtime versus cost trade-off than the generational versions and that DE outperforms NSGA-II. Access publication.