This paper presents an advanced method in urban growth modeling to discover transition rules of cellular automata (CA) using the artificial bee colony (ABC) optimization algorithm. Also, comparisons between the simulation results of CA models optimized by the ABC algorithm and the particle swarm optimization algorithms (PSO) as intelligent approaches were performed to evaluate the potential of the proposed methods. According to previous studies, swarm intelligence algorithms for solving optimization problems such as discovering transition rules of CA in land use change/urban growth modeling can produce reasonable results. Modeling of urban growth as a dynamic process is not straightforward because of the existence of nonlinearity and heterogeneity among effective involved variables which can cause a number of challenges for traditional CA. ABC algorithm, the new powerful swarm based optimization algorithms, can be used to capture optimized transition rules of CA. This paper has proposed a methodology based on remote sensing data for modeling urban growth with CA calibrated by the ABC algorithm. The performance of ABC-CA, PSO-CA, and CA-logistic models in land use change detection is tested for the city of Urmia, Iran, between 2004 and 2014. Validations of the models based on statistical measures such as overall accuracy, figure of merit, and total operating characteristic were made. We showed that the overall accuracy of the ABC-CA model was 89%, which was 1.5% and 6.2% higher than those of the PSO-CA and CA-logistic model, respectively. Moreover, the allocation disagreement (simulation error) of the simulation results for the ABC-CA, PSO-CA, and CA-logistic models are 11%, 12.5%, and 17.2%, respectively. Finally, for all evaluation indices including running time, convergence capability, flexibility, statistical measurements, and the produced spatial patterns, the ABC-CA model performance showed relative improvement and therefore its superiority was confirmed.
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