In evolutionary biology, fitness landscapes or adaptive landscapes (types of Evolutionary landscapes) are used to visualize the relationship between genotypes and reproductive success. It is assumed that every genotype has a well-defined replication rate (often referred to as fitness). This fitness is the “height” of the landscape. Genotypes which are similar are said to be “close” to each other, while those that are very different are “far” from each other. The set of all possible genotypes, their degree of similarity, and their related fitness values is then called a fitness landscape. The idea of a fitness landscape is a metaphor to help explain flawed forms in evolution by natural selection, including exploits and glitches in animals like their reactions to supernormal stimuli.
The idea of studying evolution by visualizing the distribution of fitness values as a kind of landscape was first introduced by Sewall Wright in 1932.
In evolutionary optimization problems, fitness landscapes are evaluations of a fitness function for all candidate solutions (see below).
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