Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Look into the future with genetic programming


With predictive modeling techniques, it is possible to predict anything from clients’ shopping habits and illnesses to a golfer’s handicap. The only prerequisite is to have enough examples. In a doctoral thesis from the University of Borås in Sweden, Rikard König has adapted the technique of genetic programming so it can be used for such purposes.

The doctoral thesis, Enhancing Genetic Programming for Predictive Modeling, is about machine learning, more specifically predictive modeling, a field of computer science. Machine learning entails getting a computer to learn something, to become intelligent. Predictive modeling is a broad area of machine learning where a computer learns things on the basis of positive and negative examples, finds connections and explains why things turn out in a certain way.

Within predictive modeling, there is an array of techniques that are used to produce models that can predict practically anything, for instance, how people might be expected to respond to advertisements. Since these are general techniques, it is possible to predict just about anything as long as there are enough previous examples, i.e. sufficient information. The goal of predictive modeling is to find an accurate model and preferably one that explains something that was not previously known.

Genetic programming (GP) is a general optimization technique that is based on Darwin’s theories on evolution and natural selection. It is a technique that was not really designed for predictive modelling.

”In my thesis, I present several improvements that increase the accuracy and comprehensibility of models created with GP. There are many researchers who work with GP but my solutions are unique,” says Rikard König, PhD student at the School of Business and IT at the University of Borås.

In order to produce a model with the help of GP, you start off with, say, a thousand randomly chosen models and let them compete with each other. You work out how many errors the models make on known examples and then base a natural selection on the results. The most accurate models have a greater chance of surviving and having “children” – you pair off two models. These “children” are then a combination of their parents and form a new generation which is hopefully stronger. A small number of models can also be subjected to mutation, just like in nature.

”The new generation is assessed in the same way, using the known examples. They compete, pair off and give rise to an even stronger new generation. The process is repeated until a sufficiently accurate model has been found. The fascinating thing is that evolution is such a powerful way of searching through all possible solutions,” says Rikard König.

GP has several properties that make it suitable for predictive modeling. One example is that the search is independent of the representation of the model. This means that the exact representation and way of measuring errors can be adapted to individual problems. This is not normally the case with traditional predictive techniques. At the same time, the technique is problematic when a highly complex model is needed since the search goes through all possible solutions and the number of solutions increases exponentially with the complexity of the models.

”One of my improvements is a hybrid technique for creating an accurate and comprehensible model when the search space is extremely large, i.e. when a model with high complexity is required. The solution is to send relatively strong models created by a traditional predictive technique into a generation to guide the search in a promising direction.”

As part of his research, Rikard König has also produced an application that realizes his research results. The programme can be downloaded from

Rikard König is working on several research projects where these solutions may be put to use. For instance, one project is in collaboration with Scania where data from tens of thousands of lorries have been saved and will be analysed in order to explain what effect the driver has on fuel consumption. Another example, which also shows how generic the technique is, is a new project where golf swings from 500 golfers will be analysed. Here, the aim is to find general explanations for what distinguishes good swings from bad swings. Another aim is to be able to automatically recommend exercises for individual golfers on the basis of each person’s particular needs.

Thesis title: Enhancing Genetic Programming for Predictive Modeling

Contact: Rikard König,, +46-33 435 5945, +46- 73922 96 56

Pressofficer Anna Kjellsson,, +46-734 61 20 01

Anna Kjellsson | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Further reports about: Genetic accurate errors improvements pair produce programming technique

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Chimpanzees Shed Light on Origins of Human Walking
09.10.2015 | Stony Brook University

nachricht In “Cell”: Floppy but fast
09.10.2015 | Heidelberger Institut für Theoretische Studien gGmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Reliable in-line inspections of high-strength automotive body parts within seconds

Nondestructive material testing (NDT) is a fast and effective way to analyze the quality of a product during the manufacturing process. Because defective materials can lead to malfunctioning finished products, NDT is an essential quality assurance measure, especially in the manufacture of safety-critical components such as automotive B-pillars. NDT examines the quality without damaging the component or modifying the surface of the material. At this year's Blechexpo trade fair in Stuttgart, Fraunhofer IZFP will have an exhibit that demonstrates the nondestructive testing of high-strength automotive body parts using 3MA. The measurement results are available in a matter of seconds.

To minimize vehicle weight and fuel consumption while providing the highest level of crash safety, automotive bodies are reinforced with elements made from...

Im Focus: Kick-off for a new era of precision astronomy

The MICADO camera, a first light instrument for the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), has entered a new phase in the project: by agreeing to a Memorandum of Understanding, the partners in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Austria, and Italy, have all confirmed their participation. Following this milestone, the project's transition into its preliminary design phase was approved at a kick-off meeting held in Vienna. Two weeks earlier, on September 18, the consortium and the European Southern Observatory (ESO), which is building the telescope, have signed the corresponding collaboration agreement.

As the first dedicated camera for the E-ELT, MICADO will equip the giant telescope with a capability for diffraction-limited imaging at near-infrared...

Im Focus: Locusts at the wheel: University of Graz investigates collision detector inspired by insect eyes

Self-driving cars will be on our streets in the foreseeable future. In Graz, research is currently dedicated to an innovative driver assistance system that takes over control if there is a danger of collision. It was nature that inspired Dr Manfred Hartbauer from the Institute of Zoology at the University of Graz: in dangerous traffic situations, migratory locusts react around ten times faster than humans. Working together with an interdisciplinary team, Hartbauer is investigating an affordable collision detector that is equipped with artificial locust eyes and can recognise potential crashes in time, during both day and night.

Inspired by insects

Im Focus: Physicists shrink particle accelerator

Prototype demonstrates feasibility of building terahertz accelerators

An interdisciplinary team of researchers has built the first prototype of a miniature particle accelerator that uses terahertz radiation instead of radio...

Im Focus: Simple detection of magnetic skyrmions

New physical effect: researchers discover a change of electrical resistance in magnetic whirls

At present, tiny magnetic whirls – so called skyrmions – are discussed as promising candidates for bits in future robust and compact data storage devices. At...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

EHFG 2015: Securing healthcare and sustainably strengthening healthcare systems

01.10.2015 | Event News

Conference in Brussels: Tracking and Tracing the Smallest Marine Life Forms

30.09.2015 | Event News

World Alzheimer`s Day – Professor Willnow: Clearer Insights into the Development of the Disease

17.09.2015 | Event News

Latest News

Navigating the unknown

09.10.2015 | Information Technology

New Artificial Cells Mimic Nature’s Tiny Reactors

09.10.2015 | Materials Sciences

Chimpanzees Shed Light on Origins of Human Walking

09.10.2015 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>