Constraint Programming (CP) has been successfully applied to several combinatorial optimization problems. One of its advantages is the availability of complex global constraints performing efficient propagation and interacting with each other through shared variables. However, CP techniques have shown their limitations in dealing with optimization problems since the link between the objective function and problem decision variables is often quite loose and does not produce an effective propagation. We propose to integrate optimization components in global constraints, aimed at optimally solving a relaxation corresponding to the constraint itself. The optimal solution of the relaxation provides pieces of information which can be exploited in order to perform pruning on the basis of cost-based reasoning. In fact, we exploit reduction rules based on lower bound and reduced costs calculation to remove those branches which cannot improve the best solution found so far. The interest of integrating efficient well-known Operations Research (OR) algorithms into CP is mainly due to the smooth interaction between CP domain reduction and information provided by the relaxation acting on variable domains which can be seen as a communication channel among different techniques. We have applied this technique to symmetric and asymmetric Traveling Salesman Problem (TSP) instances both because the TSP is an interesting problem arising in many real-life applications, and because pure CP techniques lead to disappointing results for this problem. We have tested the proposed optimization constraints using ILOG solver. Computational results on benchmarks available from literature, and comparison with related approaches are described in the paper. The proposed method on pure TSPs improves the performances of CP solvers, but is still far from the OR state of the art techniques for solving the problem. However, due to the flexibility of the CP framework, we could easily use the same technique on TSP with Time Windows, a time constrained variant of the TSP. For this type of problem, we achieve results that are comparable with state of the art OR results.

Embedding relaxations in global constraints for solving TSP and TSPTW

Lodi A.;Milano M.
2002

Abstract

Constraint Programming (CP) has been successfully applied to several combinatorial optimization problems. One of its advantages is the availability of complex global constraints performing efficient propagation and interacting with each other through shared variables. However, CP techniques have shown their limitations in dealing with optimization problems since the link between the objective function and problem decision variables is often quite loose and does not produce an effective propagation. We propose to integrate optimization components in global constraints, aimed at optimally solving a relaxation corresponding to the constraint itself. The optimal solution of the relaxation provides pieces of information which can be exploited in order to perform pruning on the basis of cost-based reasoning. In fact, we exploit reduction rules based on lower bound and reduced costs calculation to remove those branches which cannot improve the best solution found so far. The interest of integrating efficient well-known Operations Research (OR) algorithms into CP is mainly due to the smooth interaction between CP domain reduction and information provided by the relaxation acting on variable domains which can be seen as a communication channel among different techniques. We have applied this technique to symmetric and asymmetric Traveling Salesman Problem (TSP) instances both because the TSP is an interesting problem arising in many real-life applications, and because pure CP techniques lead to disappointing results for this problem. We have tested the proposed optimization constraints using ILOG solver. Computational results on benchmarks available from literature, and comparison with related approaches are described in the paper. The proposed method on pure TSPs improves the performances of CP solvers, but is still far from the OR state of the art techniques for solving the problem. However, due to the flexibility of the CP framework, we could easily use the same technique on TSP with Time Windows, a time constrained variant of the TSP. For this type of problem, we achieve results that are comparable with state of the art OR results.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11585/905891
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