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This paper presents a novel approach to solve the constrained unit commitment problem using the Selective Self- Adaptive Ant Colony Optimization (SSACO) for improving search performance by automatically adapting ant populations and their transition probability parameters, which cooperates with the Candidate Path Management Module (CPMM) and the Effective Repairing Heuristic Module (ERHM) in reducing search space and recovering a feasible optimality region so that a high quality solution can be acquired in a very early iterative. A new concept of the Relativity Pheromone Updating (RPU) is also introduced to provide a reasonable evaluation of the pheromone trail intensity among the agents. The proposed SSACO method not only enhances the convergence of search process, but also provides a suitable number of the population sharing which conducts a good guidance for trading-off between the importance of the visibility and the pheromone trail intensity. The proposed method has been performed on a test system up to 100 generating units with a scheduling time horizon of 24 hours. The numerical results show the most economical saving in the total operating cost when compared to the previous literature results. Moreover, the proposed SSACO topology can remarkably speed up the computational time of ant colony optimization, which is favorable for a large-scale UC problem implementation.