Stochastic Search Using the Natural Gradient

author: Sun Yi, IDSIA
published: Aug. 26, 2009,   recorded: June 2009,   views: 4656


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To optimize unknown `fitness' functions, we introduce Natural Search, a novel stochastic search method that constitutes a principled alternative to standard evolutionary methods. It maintains a multinormal distribution on the set of solution candidates. The Natural Gradient is used to update the distribution's parameters in the direction of higher expected fitness, by efficiently calculating the inverse of the exact Fisher information matrix whereas previous methods had to use approximations. Other novel aspects of our method include optimal fitness baselines and importance mixing, a procedure adjusting batches with minimal numbers of fitness evaluations. The algorithm yields competitive results on a number of benchmarks.

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