How important is a transfer function in discrete heuristic algorithms

Shahrzad Saremi, Seyedali Mirjalili, Andrew Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


Transfer functions are considered the simplest and cheapest operators in designing discrete heuristic algorithms. The main advantage of such operators is the maintenance of the structure and other continuous operators of a continuous algorithm. However, a transfer function may show different behaviour in various heuristic algorithms. This paper investigates the behaviour and importance of transfer functions in improving performance of heuristic algorithms. As case studies, two algorithms with different mechanisms of optimisation were chosen: Gravitational Search Algorithm and Particle Swarm Optimisation. Eight transfer functions were integrated in these two algorithms and compared on a set of test functions. The results show that transfer functions may show diverse behaviours and have different impacts on the performance of algorithms, which should be considered when designing a discrete algorithm. The results also demonstrate the significant role of the transfer function in terms of improved exploration and exploitation of a heuristic algorithm.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)625-640
Number of pages16
JournalNeural Computing and Applications
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Binary algorithm
  • Binary optimisation
  • Discrete algorithm
  • Discrete optimisation
  • Evolutionary algorithm
  • Heuristic algorithm
  • Transfer function


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