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I have a course named "Evolutionary Algorithm". But, our teacher is always mentioning the word "Optimization" in his lectures.

I am confused. Is he actually teaching Optimization? If yes, why is the name of the course not "Optimization"?

What is the difference between the study of Evolutionary algorithm and Optimization?

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    $\begingroup$ Both evolutionary and optimization techniques try to find the global optimum solution to your task, although they often only find a local optimum, the local optimum is "close" to the global one. $\endgroup$ – user2974951 Sep 24 '18 at 6:16
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    $\begingroup$ Evolutionary algorithms (sometimes you hear genetic algorithms) can be used to perform optimization. You can use them to optimize over very very large solution spaces or to help from being trapped in local minima. Particularly useful if function evaluations aren't too costly and can handle discontinuities over the domain. Solution is not guaranteed to be the global optimal. $\endgroup$ – SecretAgentMan Sep 24 '18 at 6:18
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Yes, you are correct, your lecturer is teaching (a subset of) Optimisation techniques. That said, it is a good choice of him to emphasise that the class is about Evolutionary Algorithms instead of "standard" Optimisation approaches.

Usually a "standard" first course on Optimisation involves the study of convergence criteria/conditions (e.g. Wolfe conditions), use of gradients (e.g. BFGS) and Hessians (eg. Newton's method) before touching more advanced concepts like constrained optimisation, combinatorial optimization, etc. Evolutionary algorithms are primarily (meta-)heuristics approaches closely associated with genetic algorithms and/or stochastic optimisation (e.g. Simulated annealing), that work with a population-of-solutions notion. This is contrast with the "standard" Optimisation approach where we have a single "best" solution and we update it in an iterative manner.

Both approaches ultimately try to solve the same problem (minimise a particular cost function) but employ very different approaches.

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  • $\begingroup$ i would have voted 10 times if i could. $\endgroup$ – user366312 Sep 24 '18 at 23:25
  • $\begingroup$ I am glad you find this helpful! :) Optimisation is a fascinating topic, I hope you enjoy your course! $\endgroup$ – usεr11852 says Reinstate Monic Sep 24 '18 at 23:26

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