Detecting Hidden and Irrelevant Objectives in Interactive Multiobjective Optimization

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Evolutionary multi-objective optimization algorithms (EMOAs) typically assume that all objectives that are relevant to the decision-maker (DM) are optimized by the EMOA. In some scenarios, however, there are irrelevant objectives that are optimized by the EMOA but ignored by the DM, as well as, hidden objectives that the DM considers when judging the utility of solutions but are not optimized. This discrepancy between the EMOA and the DM’s preferences may impede the search for the most-preferred solution and waste resources evaluating irrelevant objectives. Research on objective reduction has focused so far on the structure of the problem and correlations between objectives and neglected the role of the DM. We formally define here the concepts of irrelevant and hidden objectives and propose methods for detecting them, based on uni-variate feature selection and recursive feature elimination, that use the preferences already elicited when a DM interacts with a ranking-based interactive EMOA (iEMOA). We incorporate the detection methods into an iEMOA capable of dynamically switching the objectives being optimized. Our experiments show that this approach can efficiently identify which objectives are relevant to the DM and reduce the number of objectives being optimized, while keeping and often improving the utility, according to the DM, of the best solution found.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)544-557
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Transactions on Evolutionary Computation
Issue number2
Early online date1 Apr 2023
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024


  • Dimension reduction
  • feature selection
  • hidden objectives
  • interactive multiobjective optimization
  • irrelevant objectives
  • machine learning


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