The wikipedia page on meta-heuristics states that they are "heuristics designed to find, generate, or select a heuristic".

The wikipedia page on hyper-heuristics states that they are "heuristic search methods that seeks to automate [...] the process of selecting, combining, generating or adapting several simpler heuristics".

Moreover, it also states that "The fundamental difference between metaheuristics and hyper-heuristics is that most implementations of metaheuristics search within a search space of problem solutions, whereas hyper-heuristics always search within a search space of heuristics."

This leaves me confused: it seems like the hyper heuristic page is contradicting the meta-heuristic page. How can a meta-heuristic search for heuristics, if its search space is the problem space rather than the space of heuristics?

What really is the difference between metaheuristics and hyperheuristics?

  • $\begingroup$ Does this answer your question? $\endgroup$ – Bruce Adams Dec 28 '18 at 8:18
  • $\begingroup$ @BruceAdams, the answers seem to primarily distinguish meta-heuristic from heuristic, but not clarify the difference betwen meta- and hyper- heuristics $\endgroup$ – user626625 Dec 28 '18 at 19:10

Defining meta-heuristics as "heuristics designed to find, generate, or select a heuristic" seems too broad. A meta-heuristic is commonly understood as an algorithmic template that defines how different low-level heuristic components (e.g. constructive procedures, local searches, solutions recombinations) interact in the search. After instantiating these components for a specific problem, you get a heuristic which searches in the solution space.

Gendreau, Potvin, Handbook of Metaheuristics define them as

solution methods that orchestrate an interaction between local improvement strategies and higher-level strategies to create a process capable of escaping from local optima and performing a robust search of a solution space

and chapter "Defining the term 'Metaheuristic'" of Zäpfl, Braune, Bögl, Metaheuristic Search Concepts summarizes

  • A metaheuristic relies on a high-level strategy which builds upon a particular basic search principle
  • The high-level strategy is problem-independent and can be seen as an abstract framework
  • The high-level strategy has to properly realize a balance between the two forces intensification and diversification.

Thus, a short answer could be: in a meta-heuristic the designer instantiates low-level heuristics; a hyper-heuristic automates the selection or generation of the low-level heuristics.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.