Enhanced Mixed Integer Programming Techniques and Routing Problems

Tramontani, Andrea (2009) Enhanced Mixed Integer Programming Techniques and Routing Problems, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Automatica e ricerca operativa, 21 Ciclo. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsdottorato/1754.
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Mixed integer programming is up today one of the most widely used techniques for dealing with hard optimization problems. On the one side, many practical optimization problems arising from real-world applications (such as, e.g., scheduling, project planning, transportation, telecommunications, economics and finance, timetabling, etc) can be easily and effectively formulated as Mixed Integer linear Programs (MIPs). On the other hand, 50 and more years of intensive research has dramatically improved on the capability of the current generation of MIP solvers to tackle hard problems in practice. However, many questions are still open and not fully understood, and the mixed integer programming community is still more than active in trying to answer some of these questions. As a consequence, a huge number of papers are continuously developed and new intriguing questions arise every year. When dealing with MIPs, we have to distinguish between two different scenarios. The first one happens when we are asked to handle a general MIP and we cannot assume any special structure for the given problem. In this case, a Linear Programming (LP) relaxation and some integrality requirements are all we have for tackling the problem, and we are ``forced" to use some general purpose techniques. The second one happens when mixed integer programming is used to address a somehow structured problem. In this context, polyhedral analysis and other theoretical and practical considerations are typically exploited to devise some special purpose techniques. This thesis tries to give some insights in both the above mentioned situations. The first part of the work is focused on general purpose cutting planes, which are probably the key ingredient behind the success of the current generation of MIP solvers. Chapter 1 presents a quick overview of the main ingredients of a branch-and-cut algorithm, while Chapter 2 recalls some results from the literature in the context of disjunctive cuts and their connections with Gomory mixed integer cuts. Chapter 3 presents a theoretical and computational investigation of disjunctive cuts. In particular, we analyze the connections between different normalization conditions (i.e., conditions to truncate the cone associated with disjunctive cutting planes) and other crucial aspects as cut rank, cut density and cut strength. We give a theoretical characterization of weak rays of the disjunctive cone that lead to dominated cuts, and propose a practical method to possibly strengthen those cuts arising from such weak extremal solution. Further, we point out how redundant constraints can affect the quality of the generated disjunctive cuts, and discuss possible ways to cope with them. Finally, Chapter 4 presents some preliminary ideas in the context of multiple-row cuts. Very recently, a series of papers have brought the attention to the possibility of generating cuts using more than one row of the simplex tableau at a time. Several interesting theoretical results have been presented in this direction, often revisiting and recalling other important results discovered more than 40 years ago. However, is not clear at all how these results can be exploited in practice. As stated, the chapter is a still work-in-progress and simply presents a possible way for generating two-row cuts from the simplex tableau arising from lattice-free triangles and some preliminary computational results. The second part of the thesis is instead focused on the heuristic and exact exploitation of integer programming techniques for hard combinatorial optimization problems in the context of routing applications. Chapters 5 and 6 present an integer linear programming local search algorithm for Vehicle Routing Problems (VRPs). The overall procedure follows a general destroy-and-repair paradigm (i.e., the current solution is first randomly destroyed and then repaired in the attempt of finding a new improved solution) where a class of exponential neighborhoods are iteratively explored by heuristically solving an integer programming formulation through a general purpose MIP solver. Chapters 7 and 8 deal with exact branch-and-cut methods. Chapter 7 presents an extended formulation for the Traveling Salesman Problem with Time Windows (TSPTW), a generalization of the well known TSP where each node must be visited within a given time window. The polyhedral approaches proposed for this problem in the literature typically follow the one which has been proven to be extremely effective in the classical TSP context. Here we present an overall (quite) general idea which is based on a relaxed discretization of time windows. Such an idea leads to a stronger formulation and to stronger valid inequalities which are then separated within the classical branch-and-cut framework. Finally, Chapter 8 addresses the branch-and-cut in the context of Generalized Minimum Spanning Tree Problems (GMSTPs) (i.e., a class of NP-hard generalizations of the classical minimum spanning tree problem). In this chapter, we show how some basic ideas (and, in particular, the usage of general purpose cutting planes) can be useful to improve on branch-and-cut methods proposed in the literature.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Tramontani, Andrea
Dottorato di ricerca
Scuola di dottorato
Scienze e ingegneria dell'informazione
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
Mixed integer programming; Disjunctive cuts; Two-row cuts; Vehicle routing problems; Traveling salesman problem with time windows; Local search; Branch-and-cut.
Data di discussione
16 Aprile 2009

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