EXPObench: Benchmarking Surrogate-based Optimisation Algorithms on Expensive Black-box Functions

Laurens Bliek, Arthur Guijt, Rickard Karlsson, Sicco Verwer, Mathijs de Weerdt

Surrogate algorithms such as Bayesian optimisation are especially designed for black-box optimisation problems with expensive objectives, such as hyperparameter tuning or simulation-based optimisation. In the literature, these algorithms are usually evaluated with synthetic benchmarks which are well established but have no expensive objective, and only on one or two real-life applications which vary wildly between papers. There is a clear lack of standardisation when it comes to benchmarking surrogate algorithms on real-life, expensive, black-box objective functions. This makes it very difficult to draw conclusions on the effect of algorithmic contributions. A new benchmark library, EXPObench, provides first steps towards such a standardisation. The library is used to provide an extensive comparison of six different surrogate algorithms on four expensive optimisation problems from different real-life applications. This has led to new insights regarding the relative importance of exploration, the evaluation time of the objective, and the used model. A further contribution is that we make the algorithms and benchmark problem instances publicly available, contributing to more uniform analysis of surrogate algorithms. Most importantly, we include the performance of the six algorithms on all evaluated problem instances. This results in a unique new dataset that lowers the bar for researching new methods as the number of expensive evaluations required for comparison is significantly reduced.

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