Solving the generalized assignment problem: a hybrid Tabu search/branch and bound algorithm
thesisposted on 16.06.2015, 11:48 by Andrew J. Woodcock
The research reported in this thesis considers the classical combinatorial optimization problem known as the Generalized Assignment Problem (GAP). Since the mid 1970's researchers have been developing solution approaches for this particular type of problem due to its importance both in practical and theoretical terms. Early attempts at solving GAP tended to use exact integer programming techniques such as Branch and Bound. Although these tended to be reasonably successful on small problem instances they struggle to cope with the increase in computational effort required to solve larger instances. The increase in available computing power during the 1980's and 1990's coincided with the development of some highly efficient heuristic approaches such as Tabu Search (TS), Genetic Algorithms (GA) and Simulated Annealing (SA). Heuristic approaches were subsequently developed that were able to obtain high quality solutions to larger and more complex instances of GAP. Most of these heuristic approaches were able to outperform highly sophisticated commercial mathematical programming software since the heuristics tend to be tailored to the problem and therefore exploit its structure. A new approach for solving GAP has been developed during this research that combines the exact Branch and Bound approach and the heuristic strategy of Tabu Search to produce a hybrid algorithm for solving GAP. This approach utilizes the mathematical programming software Xpress-MP as a Branch and Bound solver in order to solve sub-problems that are generated by the Tabu Search guiding heuristic. Tabu Search makes use of memory structures that record information about attributes of solutions visited during the search. This information is used to guide the search and in the case of the hybrid algorithm to generate sub problems to pass to the Branch and Bound solver. The new algorithm has been developed, imp lemented and tested on benchmark test problems that are extremely challenging and a comprehensive report and analysis of the experimentation is reported in this thesis.
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