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 research interests mainly fall into the interdisciplinary fields across evolutionary computation and other major AI branches such as statistical learning and deep learning, to provide end-to-end solutions to optimization & modeling in scientific research and engineering related applications.
He is the Founding Chair of IEEE Computational Intelligence Society (CIS) Shenzhen Chapter and IEEE Symposium on Model Based Evolutionary Algorithms (IEEE MBEA). He serves as an Associated Editor/Editorial Board Member for several journals, including: IEEE Transactions on Evolutionary Computation, IEEE Transactions on Cognitive and Developmental Systems, IEEE Transactions on Artificial Intelligence, etc. 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.
Download my resumé.
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
Recently, increasing works have been proposed to drive evolutionary algorithms using machine-learning models. Usually, the performance of such model-based evolutionary algorithms is highly dependent on the training qualities of the adopted models. Since it usually requires a certain amount of data (i.e., the candidate solutions generated by the algorithms) for model training, the performance deteriorates rapidly with the increase of the problem scales due to the curse of dimensionality. To address this issue, we propose a multiobjective evolutionary algorithm driven by the generative adversarial networks (GANs). At each generation of the proposed algorithm, the parent solutions are first classified into real and fake samples to train the GANs; then the offspring solutions are sampled by the trained GANs. Thanks to the powerful generative ability of the GANs, our proposed algorithm is capable of generating promising offspring solutions in high-dimensional decision space with limited training data. The proposed algorithm is tested on ten benchmark problems with up to 200 decision variables. The experimental results on these test problems demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed algorithm.
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.
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.
To approximate the Pareto front, most existing multiobjective evolutionary algorithms store the nondominated solutions found so far in the population or in an external archive during the search. Such algorithms often require a high degree of diversity of the stored solutions and only a limited number of solutions can be achieved. By contrast, model-based algorithms can alleviate the requirement on solution diversity and in principle, as many solutions as needed can be generated. This paper proposes a new model-based method for representing and searching nondominated solutions. The main idea is to construct Gaussian process-based inverse models that map all found nondominated solutions from the objective space to the decision space. These inverse models are then used to create offspring by sampling the objective space. To facilitate inverse modeling, the multivariate inverse function is decomposed into a group of univariate functions, where the number of inverse models is reduced using a random grouping technique. Extensive empirical simulations demonstrate that the proposed algorithm exhibits robust search performance on a variety of medium to high dimensional multiobjective optimization test problems. Additional nondominated solutions are generated a posteriori using the constructed models to increase the density of solutions in the preferred regions at a low computational cost.