Whale optimization approaches for wrapper feature selection

Majdi Mafarja, Seyedali Mirjalili

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

569 Citations (Scopus)


Classification accuracy highly dependents on the nature of the features in a dataset which may contain irrelevant or redundant data. The main aim of feature selection is to eliminate these types of features to enhance the classification accuracy. The wrapper feature selection model works on the feature set to reduce the number of features and improve the classification accuracy simultaneously. In this work, a new wrapper feature selection approach is proposed based on Whale Optimization Algorithm (WOA). WOA is a newly proposed algorithm that has not been systematically applied to feature selection problems yet. Two binary variants of the WOA algorithm are proposed to search the optimal feature subsets for classification purposes. In the first one, we aim to study the influence of using the Tournament and Roulette Wheel selection mechanisms instead of using a random operator in the searching process. In the second approach, crossover and mutation operators are used to enhance the exploitation of the WOA algorithm. The proposed methods are tested on standard benchmark datasets and then compared to three algorithms such as Particle Swarm Optimization (PSO), Genetic Algorithm (GA), the Ant Lion Optimizer (ALO), and five standard filter feature selection methods. The paper also considers an extensive study of the parameter setting for the proposed technique. The results show the efficiency of the proposed approaches in searching for the optimal feature subsets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)441-453
Number of pages13
JournalApplied Soft Computing Journal
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Classification
  • Crossover
  • Evolutionary operators
  • Feature selection
  • Mutation
  • Optimization
  • Selection
  • Whale optimization algorithm
  • WOA


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