School of Computing

Semantic and Structural Analysis of Genetic Programming

Lawrence Beadle

PhD thesis, Computing, University of Kent, CT2 7NF, July 2009.


Abstract Genetic programming (GP) is a subset of evolutionary computation where candidate solutions are evaluated through execution or interpreted execution. The candidate solutions generated by GP are in the form of computer programs, which are evolved to achieve a stated objective. Darwinian evolutionary theory inspires the processes that make up GP which include crossover, mutation and selection. During a GP run, crossover, mutation and selection are performed iteratively until a program that satisfies the stated objectives is produced or a certain number of time steps have elapsed. The objectives of this thesis are to empirically analyse three different aspects of these evolved programs. These three aspects are diversity, efficient representation and the changing structure of programs during evolution. In addition to these analyses, novel algorithms are presented in order to test theories, improve the overall performance of GP and reduce program size. This thesis makes three contributions to the field of GP. Firstly, a detailed analysis is performed of the process of initialisation (generating random programs to start evolution) using four novel algorithms to empirically evaluate specific traits of starting populations of programs. It is shown how two factors simultaneously effect how strong the performance of starting population will be after a GP run. Secondly, semantically based operators are applied during evolution to encourage behavioural diversity and reduce the size of programs by removing inefficient segments of code during evolution. It is demonstrated how these specialist operators can be effective individually and when combined in a series of experiments. Finally, the role of the structure of programs is considered during evolution under different evolutionary parameters considering different problem domains. This analysis reveals some interesting effects of evolution on program structure as well as offering evidence to support the success of the specialist operators.

Download publication 4797 kbytes (PDF)

Bibtex Record

author = {Lawrence Beadle},
title = {Semantic and Structural Analysis of Genetic Programming},
month = {July},
year = {2009},
pages = {182-196},
keywords = {determinacy analysis, Craig interpolants},
note = {},
doi = {},
url = {},
    publication_type = {phdthesis},
    submission_id = {248_1288277887},
    school = {Computing},
    address = {University of Kent, CT2 7NF},
    publisher = {University of Kent},

School of Computing, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NF

Enquiries: +44 (0)1227 824180 or contact us.

Last Updated: 21/03/2014