In this work, an approach is proposed to solve binary combinatorial problems using continuous metaheuristics. It focuses on the importance of binarization in the optimization process, as it can have a significant impact on the performance of the algorithm. Different binarization schemes are presented and a set of actions, which combine different transfer functions and binarization rules, under a selector based on reinforcement learning is proposed. The experimental results show that the binarization rules have a greater impact than transfer functions on the performance of the algorithms and that some sets of actions are statistically better than others. In particular, it was found that sets that incorporate the elite or elite roulette binarization rule are the best. Furthermore, exploration and exploitation were analyzed through percentage graphs and a statistical test was performed to determine the best set of actions. Overall, this work provides a practical approach for the selection of binarization schemes in binary combinatorial problems and offers guidance for future research in this field.
Keywords: Q-learning; binarization scheme selection; diversity metrics; grey wolf optimizer; set covering problem; sine cosine algorithm; whale optimization algorithm.