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University of Stirling


Article in Journal

Genetic Improvement of Software: a Comprehensive Survey (Forthcoming/Available Online)

Petke J, Haraldsson S, Harman M, Langdon WB, White D & Woodward J (2017) Genetic Improvement of Software: a Comprehensive Survey (Forthcoming/Available Online), IEEE Transactions on Evolutionary Computation.

Genetic improvement uses automated search to find improved versions of existing software. We present a comprehensive survey of this nascent field of research with a focus on the core papers in the area published between 1995 and 2015. We identified core publications including empirical studies, 96% of which use evolutionary algorithms (genetic programming in particular). Although we can trace the foundations of genetic improvement back to the origins of computer science itself, our analysis reveals a significant upsurge in activity since 2012. Genetic improvement has resulted in dramatic performance improvements for a diverse set of properties such as execution time, energy and memory consumption, as well as results for fixing and extending existing system functionality. Moreover, we present examples of research work that lies on the boundary between genetic improvement and other areas, such as program transformation, approximate computing, and software repair, with the intention of encouraging further exchange of ideas between researchers in these fields.

Genetic programming; Software; Software testing; History; Software engineering

StatusIn press
AuthorsPetke Justyna, Haraldsson Saemundur, Harman Mark, Langdon William B, White David, Woodward John
Publication date online25/04/2017
Date accepted by journal20/03/2017
ISSN 1089-778x

Ieee Transactions on Evolutionary Computation

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