Water Resources Management

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 219–231 | Cite as

A Genetic Programming Approach to Rainfall-Runoff Modelling

  • Dragan A. Savic
  • Godfrey A. Walters
  • James W. Davidson


Planning for sustainable development of water resources relies crucially on the data available. Continuous hydrologic simulation based on conceptual models has proved to be the appropriate tool for studying rainfall-runoff processes and for providing necessary data. In recent years, artificial neural networks have emerged as a novel identification technique for the modelling of hydrological processes. However, they represent their knowledge in terms of a weight matrix that is not accessible to human understanding at present. This paper introduces genetic programming, which is an evolutionary computing method that provides a ‘transparent’ and structured system identification, to rainfall-runoff modelling. The genetic-programming approach is applied to flow prediction for the Kirkton catchment in Scotland (U.K.). The results obtained are compared to those attained using two optimally calibrated conceptual models and an artificial neural network. Correlations identified using data-driven approaches (genetic programming and neural network) are surprising in their consistency considering the relative size of the models and the number of variables included. These results also compare favourably with the conceptual models.

artificial neural networks genetic programming identification rainfall-runoff modelling 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dragan A. Savic
    • 1
  • Godfrey A. Walters
    • 1
  • James W. Davidson
    • 1
  1. 1.The Centre for Water Systems, School of Engineering and Computer Science, Department of EngineeringUniversity of ExeterExeterUnited Kingdom

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