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In this paper we present a new mechanism for studying the impact of subtree crossover in terms of semantic building blocks. This approach allows us to completely and compactly describe the semantic action of crossover, and provide insight into what does (or doesn’t) make crossover effective. Our results make it clear that a very high proportion of crossover events (typically over 75% in our experiments) are guaranteed to perform no immediately useful search in the semantic space. Our findings also indicate a strong correlation between lack of progress and high proportions of fixed contexts. These results then suggest several new, theoretically grounded, research areas.

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