Dr. Ran Cheng, the founder of the Evolving Machine Intelligence (EMI) Group, is currently a tenured Associate Professor with the Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech), China. He received the PhD degree in computer science from the University of Surrey, UK, in 2016.
His main research interest falls into the general scope of Computational/Artificial Intelligence based learning and optimization. He is the Founding Chair of IEEE Computational Intelligence Society (CIS) Shenzhen Chapter. He serves as an Associated Editor/Editorial Board Member for IEEE Transactions on Artificial Intelligence, IEEE Transactions on Cognitive and Developmental Systems, IEEE Access, Applied Soft Computing, and Complex & Intelligent Systems. He is the recipient of the IEEE Transactions on Evolutionary Computation Outstanding Paper Awards (2018, 2021), the IEEE CIS Outstanding PhD Dissertation Award (2019), the IEEE Computational Intelligence Magazine Outstanding Paper Award (2020). He is a Senior Member of IEEE.
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PhD, Computer Science, 2013 - 2016
University of Surrey, UK
Postgraduate, Computer Science and Technology, 2010 - 2012
Zhejiang University, China
BEng, Computer Science and Technology, 2016 - 2010
Northeastern University, China
Despite the remarkable successes of convolutional neural networks (CNNs) in computer vision, it is time-consuming and error-prone to manually design a CNN. Among various neural architecture search (NAS) methods that are motivated to automate designs of high-performance CNNs, the differentiable NAS and population-based NAS are attracting increasing interests due to their unique characters. To benefit from the merits while overcoming the deficiencies of both, this work proposes a novel NAS method, RelativeNAS. As the key to efficient search, RelativeNAS performs joint learning between fast learners (i.e., decoded networks with relatively lower loss value) and slow learners in a pairwise manner. Moreover, since RelativeNAS only requires low-fidelity performance estimation to distinguish each pair of fast learner and slow learner, it saves certain computation costs for training the candidate architectures. The proposed RelativeNAS brings several unique advantages: 1) it achieves state-of-the-art performances on ImageNet with top-1 error rate of 24.88%, that is, outperforming DARTS and AmoebaNet-B by 1.82% and 1.12%, respectively; 2) it spends only 9 h with a single 1080Ti GPU to obtain the discovered cells, that is, 3.75x and 7875x faster than DARTS and AmoebaNet, respectively; and 3) it provides that the discovered cells obtained on CIFAR-10 can be directly transferred to object detection, semantic segmentation, and keypoint detection, yielding competitive results of 73.1% mAP on PASCAL VOC, 78.7% mIoU on Cityscapes, and 68.5% AP on MSCOCO, respectively. The implementation of RelativeNAS is available at https://github.com/EMI-Group/RelativeNAS.
Recently, by taking advantage of evolutionary multiobjective optimization techniques in diversity preservation, the means of multiobjectivization has attracted increasing interest in the studies of multimodal optimization (MMO). While most existing work of multiobjectivization aims to find all optimal solutions simultaneously, in this paper, we propose to approximate multimodal fitness landscapes via multiobjectivization, thus providing an estimation of potential optimal areas. To begin with, an MMO problem is transformed into a multiobjective optimization problem (MOP) by adding an adaptive diversity indicator as the second optimization objective, and an approximate fitness landscape is obtained via optimization of the transformed MOP using a multiobjective evolutionary algorithm. Then, on the basis of the approximate fitness landscape, an adaptive peak detection method is proposed to find peaks where optimal solutions may exist. Finally, local search is performed inside the detected peaks on the approximate fitness landscape. To assess the performance of the proposed algorithm, extensive experiments are conducted on 20 multimodal test functions, in comparison with three state-of-the-art algorithms for MMO. Experimental results demonstrate that the proposed algorithm not only shows promising performance in benchmark comparisons, but also has good potential in assisting preference-based decision-making in MMO.
The interests in multiobjective and many-objective optimization have been rapidly increasing in the evolutionary computation community. However, most studies on multiobjective and many-objective optimization are limited to small-scale problems, despite the fact that many real-world multiobjective and many-objective optimization problems may involve a large number of decision variables. As has been evident in the history of evolutionary optimization, the development of evolutionary algorithms (EAs) for solving a particular type of optimization problems has undergone a co-evolution with the development of test problems. To promote the research on large-scale multiobjective and many-objective optimization, we propose a set of generic test problems based on design principles widely used in the literature of multiobjective and many-objective optimization. In order for the test problems to be able to reflect challenges in real-world applications, we consider mixed separability between decision variables and nonuniform correlation between decision variables and objective functions. To assess the proposed test problems, six representative evolutionary multiobjective and many-objective EAs are tested on the proposed test problems. Our empirical results indicate that although the compared algorithms exhibit slightly different capabilities in dealing with the challenges in the test problems, none of them are able to efficiently solve these optimization problems, calling for the need for developing new EAs dedicated to large-scale multiobjective and many-objective optimization.
In evolutionary multiobjective optimization, maintaining a good balance between convergence and diversity is particularly crucial to the performance of the evolutionary algorithms (EAs). In addition, it becomes increasingly important to incorporate user preferences because it will be less likely to achieve a representative subset of the Pareto-optimal solutions using a limited population size as the number of objectives increases. This paper proposes a reference vector-guided EA for many-objective optimization. The reference vectors can be used not only to decompose the original multiobjective optimization problem into a number of single-objective subproblems, but also to elucidate user preferences to target a preferred subset of the whole Pareto front (PF). In the proposed algorithm, a scalarization approach, termed angle-penalized distance, is adopted to balance convergence and diversity of the solutions in the high-dimensional objective space. An adaptation strategy is proposed to dynamically adjust the distribution of the reference vectors according to the scales of the objective functions. Our experimental results on a variety of benchmark test problems show that the proposed algorithm is highly competitive in comparison with five state-of-the-art EAs for many-objective optimization. In addition, we show that reference vectors are effective and cost-efficient for preference articulation, which is particularly desirable for many-objective optimization. Furthermore, a reference vector regeneration strategy is proposed for handling irregular PFs. Finally, the proposed algorithm is extended for solving constrained many-objective optimization problems.
In this paper, a novel competitive swarm optimizer (CSO) for large scale optimization is proposed. The algorithm is fundamentally inspired by the particle swarm optimization but is conceptually very different. In the proposed CSO, neither the personal best position of each particle nor the global best position (or neighborhood best positions) is involved in updating the particles. Instead, a pairwise competition mechanism is introduced, where the particle that loses the competition will update its position by learning from the winner. To understand the search behavior of the proposed CSO, a theoretical proof of convergence is provided, together with empirical analysis of its exploration and exploitation abilities showing that the proposed CSO achieves a good balance between exploration and exploitation. Despite its algorithmic simplicity, our empirical results demonstrate that the proposed CSO exhibits a better overall performance than five state-of-the-art metaheuristic algorithms on a set of widely used large scale optimization problems and is able to effectively solve problems of dimensionality up to 5000.