Theory of Randomized Search Heuristics in Combinatorial Optimization

Carsten Witt (Author)

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    The rigorous mathematical analysis of randomized search heuristics(RSHs) with respect to their expected runtime is a growing research area where many results have been obtained in recent years. This class of heuristics includes well-known approaches such as Randomized Local Search (RLS), the Metropolis Algorithm (MA), Simulated Annealing (SA), and Evolutionary Algorithms (EAs) as well as more recent approaches such as Ant Colony Optimization (ACO) and Particle Swarm Optimization (PSO). Such heuristics are often applied to problems whose structure is not known or if there are not enough resources such as time, money, or knowledge to obtain good specific algorithms. It is widely acknowledged that a solid mathematical foundation for such heuristics is needed. Most designers of RSHs, however, rather focused on mimicking processes in nature (such as evolution) rather than making the heuristics amenable to a mathematical analysis. This is different to the classical design of (randomized) algorithms which are developed with their theoretical analysis of runtime (and proof of correctness) in mind. Despite these obstacles, research from the last about 15 years has shown how to apply the methods for the probabilistic analysis of randomized algorithms to RSHs. Mostly, the expected runtime of RSHs on selected problems is analzyed. Thereby, we understand why and when RSHs are efficient optimizers and, conversely, when they cannot be efficient. The tutorial will give an overview on the analysis of RSHs for solving combinatorial optimization problems. Starting from the first toy examples such as the OneMax function, we approach more realistic problems and arrive at analysis of the runtime and approximation quality of RSHs even for NP-hard problems. Our studies treat not only simple RLS algorithms and SA but also more complex population-based EAs. The combinatorial optimization problems that we discuss include the maximum matching problem, the partition problem and, in particular, the minimum spanning tree problem as an example where Simulated Annealing beats the Metropolis algorithm in combinatorial optimization. Important concepts of the analyses will be described as well.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication date2011
    Publication statusPublished - 2011
    Event2011 Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference - Dublin, Ireland
    Duration: 12 Jul 201116 Jul 2011


    Conference2011 Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference
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