Evolutionary optimization of policy responses to COVID-19 pandemic via surrogate models

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The spread of COVID-19 has caused a great series of negative effects on countries around the world. To curb the pandemic, many governments apply a variety of strict measures including the closure of public places, transportation systems, etc. This paper proposes an algorithm that searches through a set of government policies and selects the policies that minimize the growth rate of the pandemic with minimum cost to society. The proposed algorithm first builds a surrogate model of the pandemic and then searches through the set of government policies via an evolutionary algorithm. The surrogate model in this paper is an ensemble of several learning algorithms that uses a meta-learning algorithm that estimates where in the feature space each of the learning algorithms performs better and then gives a higher weight to the learning algorithm in the voting process. Because using the surrogate models as the fitness function induces uncertainty, in this paper we use an uncertainty reduction mechanism to perform a search through the search space better. Data from 124 countries are used in this paper which contains information about the policies each government has taken since the beginning of the pandemic and 75 environmental factors like climate, religion, politics, economy, etc. Several experimental studies are performed on the output of the modeling system and the optimization algorithms and comparisons are performed with state-of-the-art methods.
Original languageEnglish
Article number111359
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalApplied Soft Computing
Early online date5 Feb 2024
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024


  • Ensemble learning
  • Epidemiology COVID-19
  • Evolutionary algorithms
  • Optimization
  • Policy-making


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