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A hierarchical version of the particle swarm optimization (PSO) metaheuristic is introduced in this paper. In the new method called H-PSO, the particles are arranged in a dynamic hierarchy that is used to define a neighborhood structure. Depending on the quality of their so-far best-found solution, the particles move up or down the hierarchy. This gives good particles that move up in the hierarchy a larger influence on the swarm. We introduce a variant of H-PSO, in which the shape of the hierarchy is dynamically adapted during the execution of the algorithm. Another variant is to assign different behavior to the individual particles with respect to their level in the hierarchy. H-PSO and its variants are tested on a commonly used set of optimization functions and are compared to PSO using different standard neighborhood schemes.