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Image restoration is a difficult problem due to the ill-conditioned nature of the associated inverse filtering operation, which requires regularization techniques. The choice of the corresponding regularization parameter is thus an important issue since an incorrect choice would either lead to noisy appearances in the smooth regions or excessive blurring of the textured regions. In addition, this choice has to be made adaptively across, different image regions to ensure the best subjective quality for the restored image. We employ evolutionary programming (EP) to solve this adaptive regularization problem by generating a population of potential regularization strategies, and allowing them to compete under a new error measure which characterizes a large class of images in terms of their local correlational properties. The nonavailability of explicit gradient information for this measure motivates the adoption of EP techniques for its optimization, which allows efficient search at multiple error surface points. The adoption of EP also allows the broadening of the range of possible cost functions for image processing so that we can choose the most relevant function rather than the most tractable one for a particular image processing application.