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Essentials of Metaheuristics

http://cs.gmu.edu/~sean/book/metaheuristics/

Free course/lecture notes on optimization algorithms: genetic algorithms, simulated annealing, particle swarm optimization

"What is a Metaheuristic? A common but unfortunate name for any stochastic optimization algorithm intended to be the last resort before giving up and using random or brute-force search. Such algorithms are used for problems where you don't know how to find a good solution, but if shown a candidate solution, you can give it a grade. The algorithmic family includes genetic algorithms, hill-climbing, simulated annealing, ant colony optimization, particle swarm optimization, and so on. "

This is an open set of lecture notes on metaheuristics algorithms, intended for undergraduate students, practitioners, programmers, and other non-experts. It was developed as a series of lecture notes for an undergraduate course I taught at GMU. The chapters are designed to be printable separately if necessary. As it's lecture notes, the topics are short and light on examples and theory.