In machine learning, one of the uses of genetic algorithms is to pick up the right number of variables in order to create a predictive model.
To pick up the right subset of variables is a problem of combinatory logic and optimization.
The advantage of this technique over others is that it allows the best solution to emerge from the best of the prior solutions. An evolutionary algorithm which improves the selection over time.
The idea of GA is to combine the different solutions generation after generation to extract the best genes (variables) from each one. That way it creates new and more fit individuals.
We can find other uses of GA such as hyper-tunning parameters, finding the maximum (or minimum) of a function, or searching for the correct neural network architecture (neuroevolution), among others.
I’ve seen a few people use genetic algorithms in the past decade, but usually for hyperparameter tuning rather than as a primary algorithm. It was always the “algorithm of last resort” even before neural networks took over the industry, but if you want to spend way too much time on the topic, I have a series. If you have too much time on your hands and meet me in person, ask about my thesis.