Memetic Algorithms are inspired by the interplay of genetic evolution and memetic evolution. Universal Darwinism is the generalization of genes beyond biological-based systems to any system where discrete units of information can be inherited and be subjected to evolutionary forces of selection and variation. The term « meme » is used to refer to a piece of discrete cultural information, suggesting at the interplay of genetic and cultural evolution.
The genotype is evolved based on the interaction the phenotype has with the environment. This interaction is metered by cultural phenomena that influence the selection mechanisms, and even the pairing and recombination mechanisms. Cultural information is shared between individuals, spreading through the population as memes relative to their fitness or fitness the memes impart to the individuals. Collectively, the interplay of the geneotype and the memeotype strengthen the fitness of population in the environment.
The objective of the information processing strategy is to exploit a population based global search technique to broadly locate good areas of the search space, combined with the repeated usage of a local search heuristic by individual solutions to locate local optimum. Ideally, memetic algorithms embrace the duality of genetic and cultural evolution, allowing the transmission, selection, inheritance, and variation of memes as well as genes.
The procedure describes a simple or first order Memetic Algorithm that shows the improvement of individual solutions separate from a global search, although does not show the independent evolution of memes.
The global search provides the broad exploration mechanism, whereas the individual solution improvement via local search provides an exploitation mechanism. Balance is needed between the local and global mechanisms to ensure the system does not prematurely converge to a local optimum and does not consume unnecessary computational resources. The local search should be problem and representation specific, where as the global search may be generic and non-specific (blackbox). Memetic Algorithms have been applied to a range of constraint, combinatorial, and continuous function optimization problem domains.