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In this paper, a fitness landscape analysis for several instances of the quadratic assignment problem (QAP) is performed, and the results are used to classify problem instances according to their hardness for local search heuristics and meta-heuristics based on local search. The local properties of the fitness landscape are studied by performing an autocorrelation analysis, while the global structure is investigated by employing a fitness distance correlation analysis. It is shown that epistasis, as expressed by the dominance of the flow and distance matrices of a QAP instance, the landscape ruggedness in terms of the correlation length of a landscape, and the correlation between fitness and distance of local optima in the landscape together are useful for predicting the performance of memetic algorithms-evolutionary algorithms incorporating local search (to a certain extent). Thus, based on these properties, a favorable choice of recombination and/or mutation operators can be found. Experiments comparing three different evolutionary operators for a memetic algorithm are presented.