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Federal University of ABC

Authors:Gabriel Kronberger, Fabricio Olivetti de Franca, Harry Desmond, Deaglan J. Bartlett, Lukas Kammerer

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Abstract:We analyse the search behaviour of genetic programming for symbolic regression in practically relevant but limited settings, allowing exhaustive enumeration of all solutions. This enables us to quantify the success probability of finding the best possible expressions, and to compare the search efficiency of genetic programming to random search in the space of semantically unique expressions. This analysis is made possible by improved algorithms for equality saturation, which we use to improve the Exhaustive Symbolic Regression algorithm; this produces the set of semantically unique expression structures, orders of magnitude smaller than the full symbolic regression search space. We compare the efficiency of random search in the set of unique expressions and genetic programming. For our experiments we use two real-world datasets where symbolic regression has been used to produce well-fitting univariate expressions: the Nikuradse dataset of flow in rough pipes and the Radial Acceleration Relation of galaxy dynamics. The results show that genetic programming in such limited settings explores only a small fraction of all unique expressions, and evaluates expressions repeatedly that are congruent to already visited expressions.

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Abstract:Symbolic regression (SR) searches for parametric models that accurately fit a dataset, prioritizing simplicity and interpretability. Despite this secondary objective, studies point out that the models are often overly complex due to redundant operations, introns, and bloat that arise during the iterative process, and can hinder the search with repeated exploration of bloated segments. Applying a fast heuristic algebraic simplification may not fully simplify the expression and exact methods can be infeasible depending on size or complexity of the expressions. We propose a novel agnostic simplification and bloat control for SR employing an efficient memoization with locality-sensitive hashing (LHS). The idea is that expressions and their sub-expressions traversed during the iterative simplification process are stored in a dictionary using LHS, enabling efficient retrieval of similar structures. We iterate through the expression, replacing subtrees with others of same hash if they result in a smaller expression. Empirical results shows that applying this simplification during evolution performs equal or better than without simplification in minimization of error, significantly reducing the number of nonlinear functions. This technique can learn simplification rules that work in general or for a specific problem, and improves convergence while reducing model complexity.

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Abstract:In some situations, the interpretability of the machine learning models plays a role as important as the model accuracy. Interpretability comes from the need to trust the prediction model, verify some of its properties, or even enforce them to improve fairness. Many model-agnostic explanatory methods exists to provide explanations for black-box models. In the regression task, the practitioner can use white-boxes or gray-boxes models to achieve more interpretable results, which is the case of symbolic regression. When using an explanatory method, and since interpretability lacks a rigorous definition, there is a need to evaluate and compare the quality and different explainers. This paper proposes a benchmark scheme to evaluate explanatory methods to explain regression models, mainly symbolic regression models. Experiments were performed using 100 physics equations with different interpretable and non-interpretable regression methods and popular explanation methods, evaluating the performance of the explainers performance with several explanation measures. In addition, we further analyzed four benchmarks from the GP community. The results have shown that Symbolic Regression models can be an interesting alternative to white-box and black-box models that is capable of returning accurate models with appropriate explanations. Regarding the explainers, we observed that Partial Effects and SHAP were the most robust explanation models, with Integrated Gradients being unstable only with tree-based models. This benchmark is publicly available for further experiments.

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Abstract:Parent selection plays an important role in evolutionary algorithms, and many strategies exist to select the parent pool before breeding the next generation. Methods often rely on average error over the entire dataset as a criterion to select the parents, which can lead to an information loss due to aggregation of all test cases. Under epsilon-lexicase selection, the population goes to a selection pool that is iteratively reduced by using each test individually, discarding individuals with an error higher than the elite error plus the median absolute deviation (MAD) of errors for that particular test case. In an attempt to better capture differences in performance of individuals on cases, we propose a new criteria that splits errors into two partitions that minimize the total variance within partitions. Our method was embedded into the FEAT symbolic regression algorithm, and evaluated with the SRBench framework, containing 122 black-box synthetic and real-world regression problems. The empirical results show a better performance of our approach compared to traditional epsilon-lexicase selection in the real-world datasets while showing equivalent performance on the synthetic dataset.

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Abstract:Program synthesis with Genetic Programming searches for a correct program that satisfies the input specification, which is usually provided as input-output examples. One particular challenge is how to effectively handle loops and recursion avoiding programs that never terminate. A helpful abstraction that can alleviate this problem is the employment of Recursion Schemes that generalize the combination of data production and consumption. Recursion Schemes are very powerful as they allow the construction of programs that can summarize data, create sequences, and perform advanced calculations. The main advantage of writing a program using Recursion Schemes is that the programs are composed of well defined templates with only a few parts that need to be synthesized. In this paper we make an initial study of the benefits of using program synthesis with fold and unfold templates, and outline some preliminary experimental results. To highlight the advantages and disadvantages of this approach, we manually solved the entire GPSB benchmark using recursion schemes, highlighting the parts that should be evolved compared to alternative implementations. We noticed that, once the choice of which recursion scheme is made, the synthesis process can be simplified as each of the missing parts of the template are reduced to simpler functions, which are further constrained by their own input and output types.

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Abstract:Symbolic regression is a nonlinear regression method which is commonly performed by an evolutionary computation method such as genetic programming. Quantification of uncertainty of regression models is important for the interpretation of models and for decision making. The linear approximation and so-called likelihood profiles are well-known possibilities for the calculation of confidence and prediction intervals for nonlinear regression models. These simple and effective techniques have been completely ignored so far in the genetic programming literature. In this work we describe the calculation of likelihood profiles in details and also provide some illustrative examples with models created with three different symbolic regression algorithms on two different datasets. The examples highlight the importance of the likelihood profiles to understand the limitations of symbolic regression models and to help the user taking an informed post-prediction decision.

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Abstract:This paper describes a competition proposal for evolving Intelligent Agents for the game-playing framework called EvoMan. The framework is based on the boss fights of the game called Mega Man II developed by Capcom. For this particular competition, the main goal is to beat all of the eight bosses using a generalist strategy. In other words, the competitors should train the agent to beat a set of the bosses and then the agent will be evaluated by its performance against all eight bosses. At the end of this paper, the competitors are provided with baseline results so that they can have an intuition on how good their results are.

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Abstract:The Interaction-Transformation (IT) is a new representation for Symbolic Regression that restricts the search space into simpler, but expressive, function forms. This representation has the advantage of creating a smoother search space unlike the space generated by Expression Trees, the common representation used in Genetic Programming. This paper introduces an Evolutionary Algorithm capable of evolving a population of IT expressions supported only by the mutation operator. The results show that this representation is capable of finding better approximations to real-world data sets when compared to traditional approaches and a state-of-the-art Genetic Programming algorithm.

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Authors:Fabricio Olivetti de Franca

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Abstract:Symbolic Regression tries to find a mathematical expression that describes the relationship of a set of explanatory variables to a measured variable. The main objective is to find a model that minimizes the error and, optionally, that also minimizes the expression size. A smaller expression can be seen as an interpretable model considered a reliable decision model. This is often performed with Genetic Programming which represents their solution as expression trees. The shortcoming of this algorithm lies on this representation that defines a rugged search space and contains expressions of any size and difficulty. These pose as a challenge to find the optimal solution under computational constraints. This paper introduces a new data structure, called Interaction-Transformation (IT), that constrains the search space in order to exclude a region of larger and more complicated expressions. In order to test this data structure, it was also introduced an heuristic called SymTree. The obtained results show evidence that SymTree are capable of obtaining the optimal solution whenever the target function is within the search space of the IT data structure and competitive results when it is not. Overall, the algorithm found a good compromise between accuracy and simplicity for all the generated models.

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Abstract:Most community detection algorithms from the literature work as optimization tools that minimize a given \textit{fitness function}, while assuming that each node belongs to a single community. Since there is no hard concept of what a community is, most proposed fitness functions focus on a particular definition. As such, these functions do not always lead to partitions that correspond to those observed in practice. This paper proposes a new flexible fitness function that allows the identification of communities with distinct characteristics. Such flexibility was evaluated through the adoption of an immune-inspired optimization algorithm, named cob-aiNet[C], to identify both disjoint and overlapping communities in a set of benchmark networks. The results have shown that the obtained partitions are much closer to the ground-truth than those obtained by the optimization of the modularity function.

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