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RBFOpt: an open-source library for black-box optimization with costly function evaluations

Alberto Costa (costa***at***lix.polytechnique.fr)
Giacomo Nannicini (nannicini***at***us.ibm.com)

Abstract: We consider the problem of optimizing an unknown function given as an oracle over a mixed-integer box-constrained set. We assume that the oracle is expensive to evaluate, so that estimating partial derivatives by finite differences is impractical. In the literature, this is typically called a black-box optimization problem with costly evaluation. This paper describes the solution methodology implemented in the open-source library RBFOpt, available on COIN-OR. The algorithm is based on the Radial Basis Function method originally proposed by Gutmann (2001), which builds and iteratively refines a surrogate model of the unknown objective function. The two main methodological contributions of this paper are an approach to exploit a noisy but less expensive oracle to accelerate convergence to the optimum of the exact oracle, and the introduction of an automatic model selection phase during the optimization process. Numerical experiments show that RBFOpt is highly competitive on a test set of continuous and mixed-integer nonlinear uncon- strained problems taken from the literature: it outperforms the open-source solvers included in our comparison by a large amount, and performs slightly better than a commercial solver. Our empirical evaluation provides insight on which parametrizations of the algorithm are the most effective in practice.

Keywords: Black-box optimization; Derivative free optimization; Radial basis function; Open-source software; Mixed-integer nonlinear programming

Category 1: Global Optimization

Category 2: Nonlinear Optimization (Bound-constrained Optimization )

Category 3: Optimization Software and Modeling Systems


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Entry Submitted: 09/12/2014
Entry Accepted: 09/14/2014
Entry Last Modified: 05/17/2017

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