Binary dragonfly optimization for feature selection using time-varying transfer functions

Majdi Mafarja, Ibrahim Aljarah, Ali Asghar Heidari, Hossam Faris, Philippe Fournier-Viger, Xiaodong Li, Seyedali Mirjalili

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

325 Citations (Scopus)


The Dragonfly Algorithm (DA) is a recently proposed heuristic search algorithm that was shown to have excellent performance for numerous optimization problems. In this paper, a wrapper-feature selection algorithm is proposed based on the Binary Dragonfly Algorithm (BDA). The key component of the BDA is the transfer function that maps a continuous search space to a discrete search space. In this study, eight transfer functions, categorized into two families (S-shaped and V-shaped functions) are integrated into the BDA and evaluated using eighteen benchmark datasets obtained from the UCI data repository. The main contribution of this paper is the proposal of time-varying S-shaped and V-shaped transfer functions to leverage the impact of the step vector on balancing exploration and exploitation. During the early stages of the optimization process, the probability of changing the position of an element is high, which facilitates the exploration of new solutions starting from the initial population. On the other hand, the probability of changing the position of an element becomes lower towards the end of the optimization process. This behavior is obtained by considering the current iteration number as a parameter of transfer functions. The performance of the proposed approaches is compared with that of other state-of-art approaches including the DA, binary grey wolf optimizer (bGWO), binary gravitational search algorithm (BGSA), binary bat algorithm (BBA), particle swarm optimization (PSO), and genetic algorithm in terms of classification accuracy, sensitivity, specificity, area under the curve, and number of selected attributes. Results show that the time-varying S-shaped BDA approach outperforms compared approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-204
Number of pages20
JournalKnowledge-Based Systems
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Binary dragonfly algorithm
  • Classification
  • Feature selection
  • Optimization
  • Transfer functions


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