Augmentative Message Passing for Traveling Salesman Problem and Graph Partitioning

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

The cutting plane method is an augmentative constrained optimization procedure that is often used with continuous-domain optimization techniques such as linear and convex programs. We investigate the viability of a similar idea within message passing -- which produces integral solutions -- in the context of two combinatorial problems: 1) For Traveling Salesman Problem (TSP), we propose a factor-graph based on Held-Karp formulation, with an exponential number of constraint factors, each of which has an exponential but sparse tabular form. 2) For graph-partitioning (a.k.a., community mining) using modularity optimization, we introduce a binary variable model with a large number of constraints that enforce formation of cliques. In both cases we are able to derive surprisingly simple message updates that lead to competitive solutions on benchmark instances. In particular for TSP we are able to find near-optimal solutions in the time that empirically grows with N^3, demonstrating that augmentation is practical and efficient.


Phase Transitions and Backbones of the Asymmetric Traveling Salesman Problem

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

In recent years, there has been much interest in phase transitions of combinatorial problems. Phase transitions have been successfully used to analyze combinatorial optimization problems, characterize their typical-case features and locate the hardest problem instances. In this paper, we study phase transitions of the asymmetric Traveling Salesman Problem (ATSP), an NP-hard combinatorial optimization problem that has many real-world applications. Using random instances of up to 1,500 cities in which intercity distances are uniformly distributed, we empirically show that many properties of the problem, including the optimal tour cost and backbone size, experience sharp transitions as the precision of intercity distances increases across a critical value. Our experimental results on the costs of the ATSP tours and assignment problem agree with the theoretical result that the asymptotic cost of assignment problem is pi ^2 /6 the number of cities goes to infinity. In addition, we show that the average computational cost of the well-known branch-and-bound subtour elimination algorithm for the problem also exhibits a thrashing behavior, transitioning from easy to difficult as the distance precision increases. These results answer positively an open question regarding the existence of phase transitions in the ATSP, and provide guidance on how difficult ATSP problem instances should be generated.


Phase Transitions and Backbones of the Asymmetric Traveling Salesman Problem

Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research

In recent years, there has been much interest in phase transitions of combinatorial problems. Phase transitions have been successfully used to analyze combinatorial optimization problems, characterize their typical-case features and locate the hardest problem instances. In this paper, we study phase transitions of the asymmetric Traveling Salesman Problem (ATSP), an NP-hard combinatorial optimization problem that has many real-world applications. Using random instances of up to 1,500 cities in which intercity distances are uniformly distributed, we empirically show that many properties of the problem, including the optimal tour cost and backbone size, experience sharp transitions as the precision of intercity distances increases across a critical value. Our experimental results on the costs of the ATSP tours and assignment problem agree with the theoretical result that the asymptotic cost of assignment problem is pi ^2 /6 the number of cities goes to infinity. In addition, we show that the average computational cost of the well-known branch-and-bound subtour elimination algorithm for the problem also exhibits a thrashing behavior, transitioning from easy to difficult as the distance precision increases. These results answer positively an open question regarding the existence of phase transitions in the ATSP, and provide guidance on how difficult ATSP problem instances should be generated.


Phase Transitions and Backbones of the Asymmetric Traveling Salesman Problem

AAAI Conferences

In recent years, there has been much interest in phase transitions of combinatorial problems. Phase transitions have been successfully used to analyze combinatorial optimization problems, characterize their typical-case features and locate the hardest problem instances. In this paper, we study phase transitions of the asymmetric Traveling Salesman Problem (ATSP), an NPhard combinatorial optimization problem that has many real-world applications. Using random instances of up to 1,500 cities in which intercity distances are uniformly distributed, we empirically show that many properties of the problem, including the optimal tour cost and backbone size, experience sharp transitions as the precision of intercity distances increases across a critical value.


Augmentative Message Passing for Traveling Salesman Problem and Graph Partitioning

Neural Information Processing Systems

The cutting plane method is an augmentative constrained optimization procedure that is often used with continuous-domain optimization techniques such as linear and convex programs. We investigate the viability of a similar idea within message passing -- for integral solutions -- in the context of two combinatorial problems: 1) For Traveling Salesman Problem (TSP), we propose a factor-graph based on Held-Karp formulation, with an exponential number of constraint factors, each of which has an exponential but sparse tabular form. 2) For graph-partitioning (a.k.a. community mining) using modularity optimization, we introduce a binary variable model with a large number of constraints that enforce formation of cliques. In both cases we are able to derive surprisingly simple message updates that lead to competitive solutions on benchmark instances. In particular for TSP we are able to find near-optimal solutions in the time that empirically grows with $N^3$, demonstrating that augmentation is practical and efficient.