Symbolic induction is a promising approach to constructing decision models by extracting regularities from a data set of examples. The predominant type of model is a classification rule (or set of rules) that maps a set of relevant environmental features into specific categories or values. Classifying loan risk based on borrower profiles, consumer choice from purchase data, or supply levels based on operating conditions are all examples of this type of model-building task. Although current inductive approaches, such as ID3 and CN2, perform well on certain problems, their potential is limited by the incremental nature of their search. Genetic algorithms (GA) have shown great promise on complex search domains, and hence suggest a means for overcoming these limitations. However, effective use of genetic search in this context requires a framework that promotes the fundamental model-building objectives of predictive accuracy and model simplicity. In this article we describe COGIN, a GA-based inductive system that exploits the conventions of induction from examples to provide this framework. The novelty of COGIN lies in its use of training set coverage to simultaneously promote competition in various classification niches within the model and constrain overall model complexity. Experimental comparisons with NewID and CN2 provide evidence of the effectiveness of the COGIN framework and the viability of the GA approach.