A novel Physarum-inspired competition algorithm for discrete multi-objective optimisation problems

Abubakr Awad, George M. Coghill, Wei Pang

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Many real-world problems can be naturally formulated as discrete multi-objective optimisation (DMOO) problems. We have proposed a novel Physarum-inspired competition algorithm (PCA) to tackle these DMOO problems. Our algorithm is based on hexagonal cellular automata (CA) as a representation of problem search space and reaction–diffusion systems that control the Physarum motility. Physarum’s decision-making power and the discrete properties of CA have made our algorithm a perfectly suitable approach to solve DMOO problems. Each cell in the CA grid will be decoded as a solution (objective function) and will be regarded as a food resource to attract Physarum. The n-dimensional generalisation of the hexagonal CA grid has allowed us to extend the solving capabilities of our PCA from only 2-D to n-D optimisation problems. We have implemented a novel restart procedure to select the global Pareto frontier based on both personal experience and shared information. Extensive experimental and statistical analyses were conducted on several benchmark functions to assess the performance of our PCA against other evolutionary algorithms. As far as we know, this study is the first attempt to assess algorithms that solve DMOO problems, with a large number of benchmark functions and performance indicators. Our PCA has confirmed our assumption that individual skills of competing Physarum are more efficient in exploration and increase the diversity of the solutions. It has achieved the best performance for the Spread indicator (diversity), similar performance results compared to the strength Pareto evolutionary algorithm (SPEA2) and even outperformed other well-established genetic algorithms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14699-14719
Number of pages21
JournalSoft Computing
Issue number20
Early online date26 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023


  • Bio-inspired algorithms
  • Competition
  • Discrete multi-objective optimisation
  • Evolutionary algorithms
  • Physarum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Software
  • Geometry and Topology


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