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  • 1.
    Carling, Kenneth
    et al.
    Dalarna University, School of Technology and Business Studies, Statistics.
    Meng, Xiangli
    Dalarna University, School of Technology and Business Studies, Statistics.
    Confidence in heuristic solutions?2015In: Journal of Global Optimization, ISSN 0925-5001, E-ISSN 1573-2916, Vol. 63, no 2, p. 381-399Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Solutions to combinatorial optimization problems frequently rely on heuristics to minimize an objective function. The optimum is sought iteratively and pre-setting the number of iterations dominates in operations research applications, which implies that the quality of the solution cannot be ascertained. Deterministic bounds offer a mean of ascertaining the quality, but such bounds are available for only a limited number of heuristics and the length of the interval may be difficult to control in an application. A small, almost dormant, branch of the literature suggests using statistical principles to derive statistical bounds for the optimum. We discuss alternative approaches to derive statistical bounds. We also assess their performance by testing them on 40 test p-median problems on facility location, taken from Beasley’s OR-library, for which the optimum is known. We consider three popular heuristics for solving such location problems; simulated annealing, vertex substitution, and Lagrangian relaxation where only the last offers deterministic bounds. Moreover, we illustrate statistical bounds in the location of 71 regional delivery points of the Swedish Post. We find statistical bounds reliable and much more efficient than deterministic bounds provided that the heuristic solutions are sampled close to the optimum. Statistical bounds are also found computationally affordable.

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