We present a two-phase strategy for optimizing a multi-dimensional, non-convex function arising during genetic mapping of quantitative traits. Such traits are believed to be affected by multiple so called QTL, and searching for d QTL results in a d-dimensional optimization problem with a large number of local optima. We combine the global algorithm DIRECT of Jones et al. with a number of local optimization methods that accelerate the final convergence, and adapt the algorithms to problem-specific features. We also improve the evaluation of the QTL mapping objective function to enable exploitation of the smoothness properties of the optimization landscape. Our best two-phase method is demonstrated to be accurate in at least six dimensions and up to ten times faster than currently used QTL mapping algorithms.
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