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This article develops a Bayesian optimization (BO) method which acts directly over raw strings, proposing the first uses of string kernels and genetic algorithms within BO loops. Recent applications of BO over strings have been hindered by the need to map inputs into a smooth and unconstrained latent space. Learning this projection is computationally and data-intensive. Our approach instead builds a powerful Gaussian process surrogate model based on string kernels, naturally supporting variablearXiv:2010.00979v1 fatcat:dryufghyzrgc7f2jt6sf3b35yu