Justin K. Pugh, L. B. Soros, and Kenneth O. Stanley (2016)
Quality Diversity: A New Frontier for Evolutionary Computation
In: Frontiers in Robotics and AI, 3(40). 2016 (17 pages).


While evolutionary computation and evolutionary robotics take inspiration from nature, they have long focused mainly on problems of performance optimization. Yet, evolution in nature can be interpreted as more nuanced than a process of simple optimization. In particular, natural evolution is a divergent search that optimizes locally within each niche as it simultaneously diversifies. This tendency to discover both quality and diversity at the same time differs from many of the conventional algorithms of machine learning, and also thereby suggests a different foundation for inferring the approach of greatest potential for evolutionary algorithms. In fact, several recent evolutionary algorithms called quality diversity (QD) algorithms (e.g., novelty search with local competition and MAP-Elites) have drawn inspiration from this more nuanced view, aiming to fill a space of possibilities with the best possible example of each type of achievable behavior. The result is a new class of algorithms that return an archive of diverse, high-quality behaviors in a single run. The aim in this paper is to study the application of QD algorithms in challenging environments (in particular complex mazes) to establish their best practices for ambitious domains in the future. In addition to providing insight into cases when QD succeeds and fails, a new approach is investigated that hybridizes multiple views of behaviors (called behavior characterizations) in the same run, which succeeds in overcoming some of the challenges associated with searching for QD with respect to a behavior characterization that is not necessarily sufficient for generating both quality and diversity at the same time.