Multiline Distance Minimization: A Visualized Many-Objective Test Problem Suite

Miqing LI, Crina GROSAN, Shengxiang YANG, Xiaohui LIU, Xin YAO

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)


Studying the search behavior of evolutionary many-objective optimization is an important, but challenging issue. Existing studies rely mainly on the use of performance indicators which, however, not only encounter increasing difficulties with the number of objectives, but also fail to provide the visual information of the evolutionary search. In this paper, we propose a class of scalable test problems, called multiline distance minimization problem (ML-DMP), which are used to visually examine the behavior of many-objective search. Two key characteristics of the ML-DMP problem are: 1) its Pareto optimal solutions lie in a regular polygon in the 2-D decision space and 2) these solutions are similar (in the sense of Euclidean geometry) to their images in the high-dimensional objective space. This allows a straightforward understanding of the distribution of the objective vector set (e.g., its uniformity and coverage over the Pareto front) via observing the solution set in the 2-D decision space. Fifteen well-established algorithms have been investigated on three types of ten ML-DMP problem instances. Weakness has been revealed across classic multiobjective algorithms (such as Pareto-based, decomposition-based, and indicator-based algorithms) and even state-of-the-art algorithms designed especially for many-objective optimization. This, together with some interesting observations from the experimental studies, suggests that the proposed ML-DMP may also be used as a benchmark function to challenge the search ability of optimization algorithms. © 1997-2012 IEEE.
Original languageEnglish
Article number7822978
Pages (from-to)61-78
Number of pages18
JournalIEEE Transactions on Evolutionary Computation
Issue number1
Early online date18 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Evolutionary algorithms
  • many-objective optimization
  • search behavior examination
  • test problems
  • visualization


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