Hybrid constraint programming and metaheuristic methods for large scale optimization problems

Parisini, Fabio (2011) Hybrid constraint programming and metaheuristic methods for large scale optimization problems, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Ingegneria elettronica, informatica e delle telecomunicazioni, 23 Ciclo.
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This work presents hybrid Constraint Programming (CP) and metaheuristic methods for the solution of Large Scale Optimization Problems; it aims at integrating concepts and mechanisms from the metaheuristic methods to a CP-based tree search environment in order to exploit the advantages of both approaches. The modeling and solution of large scale combinatorial optimization problem is a topic which has arisen the interest of many researcherers in the Operations Research field; combinatorial optimization problems are widely spread in everyday life and the need of solving difficult problems is more and more urgent. Metaheuristic techniques have been developed in the last decades to effectively handle the approximate solution of combinatorial optimization problems; we will examine metaheuristics in detail, focusing on the common aspects of different techniques. Each metaheuristic approach possesses its own peculiarities in designing and guiding the solution process; our work aims at recognizing components which can be extracted from metaheuristic methods and re-used in different contexts. In particular we focus on the possibility of porting metaheuristic elements to constraint programming based environments, as constraint programming is able to deal with feasibility issues of optimization problems in a very effective manner. Moreover, CP offers a general paradigm which allows to easily model any type of problem and solve it with a problem-independent framework, differently from local search and metaheuristic methods which are highly problem specific. In this work we describe the implementation of the Local Branching framework, originally developed for Mixed Integer Programming, in a CP-based environment. Constraint programming specific features are used to ease the search process, still mantaining an absolute generality of the approach. We also propose a search strategy called Sliced Neighborhood Search, SNS, that iteratively explores slices of large neighborhoods of an incumbent solution by performing CP-based tree search and encloses concepts from metaheuristic techniques. SNS can be used as a stand alone search strategy, but it can alternatively be embedded in existing strategies as intensification and diversification mechanism. In particular we show its integration within the CP-based local branching. We provide an extensive experimental evaluation of the proposed approaches on instances of the Asymmetric Traveling Salesman Problem and of the Asymmetric Traveling Salesman Problem with Time Windows. The proposed approaches achieve good results on practical size problem, thus demonstrating the benefit of integrating metaheuristic concepts in CP-based frameworks.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Parisini, Fabio
Dottorato di ricerca
Scuola di dottorato
Scienze e ingegneria dell'informazione
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Data di discussione
28 Aprile 2011

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