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The particle swarm optimizer (PSO) is a stochastic, population-based optimization technique that can be applied to a wide range of problems, including neural network training. This paper presents a variation on the traditional PSO algorithm, called the cooperative particle swarm optimizer, or CPSO, employing cooperative behavior to significantly improve the performance of the original algorithm. This is achieved by using multiple swarms to optimize different components of the solution vector cooperatively. Application of the new PSO algorithm on several benchmark optimization problems shows a marked improvement in performance over the traditional PSO.