CCE Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Information Systems (DCIS)


Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences


Sumitra Mukherjee

Committee Member

Michael Lazlo

Committee Member

Francisco J. Mitropoulos


complementary cell suppression problem, genetic algorithm, heuristic, statistical disclosure control


Cell suppression is a common method for disclosure avoidance used to protect sensitive information in two-dimensional tables where row and column totals are published along with non-sensitive data. In tables with only positive cell values, cell suppression has been demonstrated to be non-deterministic NP-hard. Therefore, finding more efficient methods for producing low-cost solutions is an area of active research.

Genetic algorithms (GA) have shown to be effective in finding good solutions to the cell suppression problem. However, these methods have the shortcoming that they tend to produce a large proportion of infeasible solutions. The primary goal of this research was to develop a GA that produced low-cost solutions with fewer infeasible solutions created at each generation than previous methods without introducing excessive CPU runtime costs.

This research involved developing a GA that produces low-cost solutions with fewer infeasible solutions produced at each generation; and implementing selection and replacement operations that maintained genetic diversity during the evolution process. The GA's performance was tested using tables containing 10,000 and 100,000 cells. The primary criterion for the evaluation of effectiveness of the GA was total cost of the complementary suppressions and the CPU runtime.

Experimental results indicate that the GA-based method developed in this dissertation produced better quality solutions than those produced by extant heuristics. Because existing heuristics are very effective, this GA-based method was able to surpass them only modestly.

Existing evolutionary methods have also been used to improve upon the quality of solutions produced by heuristics. Experimental results show that the GA-based method developed in this dissertation is computationally more efficient than GA-based methods proposed in the literature. This is attributed to the fact that the specialized genetic operators designed in this study produce fewer infeasible solutions.

The results of these experiments suggest the need for continued research into non-probabilistic methods to seed the initial populations, selection and replacement strategies that factor in genetic diversity on the level of the circuits protecting sensitive cells; solution-preserving crossover and mutation operators; and the use of cost benefit ratios to determine program termination.