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journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/asoc

traveling salesmen problem

Yongbo Chen, Zhenyue Jia, Xiaolin Ai, Di Yang, Jianqiao Yu ∗

School of Aerospace Engineering, Beijing Institute of Technology, Beijing, 100081, China

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: This paper proposes a modiﬁed two-part wolf pack search (MTWPS) algorithm updated by the two-part

Received 23 June 2016 individual encoding approach as well as the transposition and extension (TE) operation for the multiple

Received in revised form 22 February 2017 travelling salesmen problem (MTSP). Firstly, the two-part individual encoding approach is introduced

Accepted 18 August 2017

into the original WPS algorithm for MTSP, which is named the two-part wolf pack search (TWPS) algo-

Available online 31 August 2017

rithm, to minimize the size of the problem search space. Secondly, the analysis of the convergence rate

performance is presented to illustrate the reasonability of the maximum terminal generation of the novel

Keywords:

TWPS algorithm deeply. Then, based on the deﬁnition of the global reachability, the TWPS algorithm is

Multiple travelling salesmen problem

(MTSP)

modiﬁed by the TE operation further, which can greatly enhance the search ability of the TWPS algorithm.

Modiﬁed two-part wolf pack search Finally, focusing on the objective of minimizing the total travel distance and the longest tour, compar-

(MTWPS) algorithm isons of the robustness and the optimality between different algorithms are presented, and experimental

Transposition and extension (TE) operation results show that the MTWPS algorithm can obtain higher solution quality than the other the ones of the

Convergence rate other two methods

Reachability © 2017 Published by Elsevier B.V.

1. Introduction according to Ref. [1], which can be used in different scenes and

different practical applications. For example, when the MTSP has

The multiple traveling salesmen problem (MTSP), which is the only one depot, it is more suitable for express delivery services

extension of the traveling salesman problem (TSP), is a well-known [2]. On the other hand, when the MTSP includes multiple depots,

and important problem in operational research. The characteristic which is a more adequate simulation of real life situations, it can be

of the MTSP can be summarized as: m (m ≥ 2) salesmen visit n cities used in many problems, such as hot rolling scheduling [3], vehi-

(n ≥ m) and their paths between the cities and the ﬁxed depots form cle scheduling problem (VSP) [4] and so on. Additionally, if the

a group of Hamilton circuits without sub-tours. The purpose of the tasks of MTSP consider the time window constraints, the MTSP

MTSP is to seek an optimal path in these paths. So the main differ- can be viewed as a multiple traveling salesmen problem with time

ence between MTSP and TSP is that the tasks of the MTSP demand windows (MTSPTW) [5,6]. One of the famous applications of the

more than one salesman, which leads to higher complexity. Similar MTSPTW is the mission planning problem. The mission planning

to the TSP, in essence, the MTSP is a non-deterministic polynomial problem generally arises in the context of autonomous mobile

hard (NP-hard) problem, which means that this problem cannot be robots and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). The applications of

solved in polynomial time on a regular computer. So seeking out the MTSPTW in mission planning problem are reported by the fol-

a high-efﬁcient algorithm to obtain a sub-optimal solution in an lowing references: M. Alighanbari et al. make a research on the

acceptable CPU time is the main challenge for the MTSP. task allocation problem for a ﬂeet of UAVs with tightly coupled

Compared with the TSP, even though the MTSP has a higher tasks and rigid relative timing constraints [7]. L. Evers et al. tackle

difﬁculty of solution-ﬁnding, it has a wider range of applications, this online stochastic UAV mission planning problem with time

especially in various routing and scheduling problems. According windows and time-sensitive targets using a re-planning approach

to the number of depots, the MTSP can be divided into four forms under the frame of the MTSPTW [8]. Besides the mission planning

problem, the MTSPTW is also applied in some situations about the

transportation of goods. For instance, B. Skinner et al. solve the

∗ Corresponding author.

transportation scheduling problem of the containers in the Patrick

AutoStrad container terminal [9]. Moreover, X. B. Wang and A. C.

E-mail addresses: bit chenyongbo@163.com (Y. Chen), jiazhenyue@163.com

(Z. Jia), bitaixiaolin@163.com (X. Ai), bluegirl 625@126.com (D. Yang), Regan solve the local truckload pickup and delivery problems in

jianqiao@bit.edu.cn (J. Yu).

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.asoc.2017.08.041

1568-4946/© 2017 Published by Elsevier B.V.

Y. Chen et al. / Applied Soft Computing 61 (2017) 714–725 715

the view of the MTSPTW [5]. In short, it is extremely signiﬁcant famous and commonest exact algorithm is the branch-and-bound

and valuable to research the MTSP and its variations. method, which is ﬁrstly proposed to solve the large-scale sym-

The heuristic optimization methods, which are powerful tools metric MTSP by Gavish and Srikanth [16]. Then, there are some

for the NP-hard problems, have captured much attention of the other kinds of branch-and-bound methods in solving the MTSP.

researchers. In order to solve the MTSP, a novel heuristic optimiza- For example, S. Saad et al. combine the branch-and-bound algo-

tion algorithm called two-part WPS (TWPS), which is inspired by rithm with the Hungarian method to solve the MTSP [17]. Although

Refs. [10] and [11], is presented in this paper. Then, its weakness the exact algorithms have rigorous mathematical foundations, their

is discussed around the global reachability of the initial popula- problem-solving ability is completely dependent on the size of the

tion updated by the TWPS algorithm. Finally, aimed at overcoming problem. When the size of the problem grows, the solving time will

this weakness, a transposition and extension (TE) operation, which become unacceptable. As a result, there are a growing number of

dramatically improves the solution quality, is introduced to mod- scholars turning to the research of the heuristic algorithms, which

ify this algorithm. The main contributions of this paper include: can easily obtain an optimal, sub-optimal or feasible solution for

the presentations of the TWPS algorithm based on two-part indi- the large-sized MTSP in an acceptable CPU time.

vidual representation technique for the MTSP, the discussions of With the development of computer technology, the heuristic

the reachability problem and the convergence generation of the algorithms are developed quickly and applied broadly. There are

TWPS algorithm, and the modiﬁcation of the TWPS algorithm (the many heuristic algorithms that are used to solve the MTSP, such as:

MTWPS algorithm). greedy algorithm [6], evolutionary algorithm [18,19], tabu search

This paper is organized as follows: In Section 2, a literature [20], simulated annealing (SA) algorithm [21,22], market-based

overview of current works on solving the MTSP and a brief sur- algorithm [23], artiﬁcial neural network (NN) approaches [24–26]

vey of related works on the WPS algorithm are introduced. Section and so on. In these methods, there is one kind of methods continu-

3 presents the original WPS algorithm and the TWPS algorithm ously concerned by the researchers: genetic algorithms (GA).

updated by the two-part individual representation technique for The development process of GA in the MTSP is around the

the MTSP. Then, the discussion of the convergence generation of chromosome coding representation. The ﬁrst reference utilizing

the TWPS algorithm and the deﬁnition of the gobal reachability of the GA for the solution of MTSP seems to be due to C. Malm-

the initial population in the TWPS algorithm are ﬁnished in Section borg [4]. He develops a GA with two chromosomes representation

4. Subsequently, the MTWPS algorithm based on the TE operation technique, which means that the ﬁrst chromosome provides a per-

is presented to overcome the serious weaknesses of the algorithm mutation of the n cities and the second one assigns a salesman

in Section 5. Section 6 presents the experimental results. At last, to each of the cities in the corresponding position of the ﬁrst

the conclusion and summary of this study are presented in Section chromosome, for the MTSP. Similarly, based on the same two chro-

7. mosome representation technique, Park Y.-B. proposes a hybrid

genetic algorithm (HGAV) incorporating a greedy interchange local

optimization algorithm for the vehicle scheduling problem with

2. Literature review service due times and time deadlines [27]. Beyond that, Tang, L.

et al. use a different GA with one chromosome representation tech-

As a widely applicable problem, the MTSP has been solved by nique, whose length of chromosome is n + m-1, to solve the MTSP

many approaches. In the tactical and problem conversion level, model developed for the hot rolling scheduling [28]. In later ref-

these approaches can be divided into two kinds: direct approach erence, Arthur E. Carter and Cliff T. Ragsdale put forward a new

and transformation approach. The direct approach means that this chromosome encoding scheme with a two-part chromosome rep-

approach can solve the MTSP directly, without any transformation resentation [4]. Based on these methods, Shuai Yuan et al. point

to the TSP. And if not, it is a transformation approach. For example, out that two chromosomes encoding schemes based on Refs. [27]

one of the ﬁrst direct approaches to solve the MTSP is presented by and [28] have a larger number of redundant solutions in the search

Laporte and Nobert [12]. They propose an algorithm whose main space compared with the latter two-part chromosome represen-

characteristic is the relaxation of most of the constraints of the tation based on Ref. [4]. Additionally, in the recent literature, the

problem during its solution. Because the classical TSP has received authors of Ref. [28] present a multi-structure GA. Even though this

a great deal of attention and it is also a test problem for most representation doesn’t have the redundant problem, it may lead to

optimization methods, a lot of optimization methods can be used the overlarge storage space of the chromosome and the overly com-

to solve a standard TSP. Therefore, the transformation approach, plex updated process of crossover and mutation operation, when

which means to transform the MTSP into the standard TSP, is a the size of the MTSP is large. In a word, the two-part chromosome

common idea to solve the MTSP. In this way, most optimization representation is the best coding scheme so far, so this representa-

methods used in the TSP could be applied to the MTSP. For example, tion is used to improve the original WPS algorithm in this paper.

one of the pioneers using the transformation approach is Goren- In view of all the above heuristic algorithms, most of them can

stein S, whose main ideas are to add m-1 additional home cities to obtain the optimal/sub-optimal solution of the middle and small-

a MTSP with m traveling salesmen and to set the home-to-home sized problem easily, but for the large-sized problem their solution

distances as inﬁnite at the same time [13]. In the recent literature, effects are tremendously different. Therefore, it is imperative to

P. Oberlin1 et al. present a transformation approach to a multi- ﬁnd more efﬁcient heuristic algorithms for the large-sized MTSP.

ple depots, multiple traveling salesmen problem, and then use the In this paper, the WPS algorithm is introduced and modiﬁed to

Kernighan-Lin (LKH) heuristic algorithm, which is one of the best solve the MTSP. The idea of the WPS algorithm is ﬁrst presented

heuristics for solving the travelling salesman problem, to obtain by Chenguang Yang et al., which is used to be the local search-

the solution [14]. Even though some transformation approaches ing to replace the worker in Marriage in Honey Bees Optimization

are simple and feasible, the obtained TSP may be seriously deterio- (MBO) algorithm [29]. Then, it is presented again by Hu-Sheng Wu

rated, which leads to the solving difﬁculty of the new problem and and Feng-Ming Zhang with a few modiﬁcations and renamed as

is even harder to solve the original MTSP [15]. wolf pack algorithm (WPA). At the same time, some test optimiza-

In the sense of the optimization methods, these approaches can tion functions are solved by the WPS algorithm compared with the

also be classiﬁed into two kinds: exact algorithms and heuristic GA, the particle swarm optimization (PSO) algorithm, the artiﬁcial

algorithms [15]. The exact algorithms are a kind of early algorithms, ﬁsh swarm (ABC) algorithm, the artiﬁcial bee colony (ACO) algo-

which are based on the rigorous mathematical theory. The most rithm, and the ﬁreﬂy algorithm (FA) [30]. The results show that

716 Y. Chen et al. / Applied Soft Computing 61 (2017) 714–725

the original WPS algorithm has better convergence and robustness, Based on the above description of a wolf pack, we abstract the

especially for high-dimensional functions. The MTSP is a typical process of the WPS algorithm. The frame of the original WPS algo-

high-dimensional problem, whose dimension grows quickly with rithm consists of the following steps:

the number of cities and salesmen. Hence, also considering its nov- 1) Initialization −set the initial parameters, such as: popula-

elty, we choose to modify the WPS algorithm for this problem. In tion quantity N, approach rate Step, elitism quantity N’, the number

fact, the original WPS algorithm and the TWPS algorithm are not of weak wolves N*, local search scale R and so on, then randomly

good global optimization methods for the large-sized MTSP, which generate an initial wolf pack {wolfi , i = 1, 2, . . ., N};

will be discussed and shown in Sections 4 and 6. But there is a lot 2) Fitness – evaluate the cost functions of all wolves f(wolfi ), i = 1,

of room to improve, so it is improved and applied to the large-sized 2, . . ., N;

MTSP in this paper. 3) Elitism – select a more appropriate small group {wolfi ,

i = eltism1 , eltism2 , . . ., eltismN } in the pack;

4) Safari – optimize in a small scale OR (wolfi ), i = eltism1 , eltism2 ,

. . ., eltismN , and obtain a the best wolf GBest;

3. The original WPS algorithm and the novel TWPS

5) Approach −get close to the best wolf GBest:

algorithm

GBest − wolfi

wolfnewi = wolfi + step , i = 1, 2, . . ., N (1)

3.1. The original WPS algorithm |GBest − wolfi |

The WPS algorithm is inspired by the uniform action of a social 6) Replacement 1–replace the original best wolf GBest, if a new

wolf pack. They cooperate well with each other and attack their wolf wolfnew appears whose cost function f(wolfnew ) is optimal than

competitors and preys. The whole process of the hunting activity f(GBest).

of a wolf group can be summarized as the following process: Firstly, 7) Replacement 2–sort the whole wolf pack, replace last N* old

the safari wolves, which are more experienced and stronger than weak wolves by N* new random ones;

the others, need to be elected to walk around; Secondly, the safari 8) Loop – go back to step 2.

wolves will search the smell round them. One of the safari wolves Of course, the whole circulation will stop if an end condition is

may ﬁnd the thickest odor which means the quarries are around satisﬁed, otherwise, it will continue.

here; Thirdly, it will inform all the other wolves by its howling. The

whole wolf pack members will move towards the directions of the 3.2. The TWPS algorithm for MTSP

howling. At the same time, the quarries can be constrained in a

smaller area; Finally, some wolves may stop their hunting activ- Based on the recent references [29] and [30], we can see that

ity, because their physical conditions are bad and they will die. the original WPS algorithm can be directly used in the real-valued

Instead, some new wolves may join the wolf pack. So the members unconstrained global optimization problems. All operations of the

of the wolf pack are updated constantly during the hunting pro- WPS algorithm are suitable for the continuous functions. However,

cess. The original WPS algorithm is to imitate the above process. the MTSP is a 0–1 integer programming problem with complex

The schematic diagram of the original WPS algorithm is shown in constraints. So it cannot be applied to the MTSP directly. In order

Fig. 1: to solve this problem, in this section, we propose a novel WPS

Y. Chen et al. / Applied Soft Computing 61 (2017) 714–725 717

tions of these three wolves will be computed to obtain the optimal

one to replace the best wolf GBest in the new wolf pack. The best

wolf GBest is assumed to be <1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 2, 2, 4>, which

means the ﬁrst salesman visits cities in the order of 1 and 2, the

second salesman visits cities in the order of 3 and 4, and the third

salesman travels to cities in the sequence of 5, 6, 7 and 8.

Step 3.a: The safari of the ﬁrst part of the elites wolves.

Fig. 2. Example of the two-part individual representation technique for 8 cities with

3 salesmen.

algorithm, for solving the MTSP. The two-part individual rep-

resentation technique is inspired by the two-part chromosome

technique in Refs. [11] and [4]. In this technique, the wolf is divided Step 3.b: The safari of the second part of the elites wolves.

into two parts, of which the ﬁrst part is a permutation of n cities

and the second part is the number of cities assigned to the corre-

sponding salesman [11]. By this way, this representation which is

exclusive for each valid solution reduces the redundant solution

in the solution space furthest. The size of the solution space for

n−1

the two-part chromosome is n! [4]. The example of the

m−1

two-part individual representation is shown as follows (Fig. 2): Fourthly, the approach process of the new TWPS algorithm is

By the help of the two-part individual representation technique, deﬁned as the following steps: Every wolf gets close to the best wolf

the original WPS algorithm can be redeﬁned as a TWPS algorithm. GBest by a rate Step. The approach rate Step means repeating the

In the following part, 6 basic steps will be shown by an example following operation for Step times in a generation. Let Step be 1. This

which has 8 cities and 3 salesmen. speciﬁc approach operation is divided into two parts: the approach

Firstly, after the initialization step, there are N wolves which of the ﬁrst part and the second part. In the ﬁrst part of the i-th wolf,

are one-dimensional arraies satisﬁng the structure of the two-part an element {3} is chosen randomly to seek its position in the best

individual representation technique. wolf GBest. Its order in i-th wolf is 6, which is bigger than its order in

Step 1: The initialization of the wolf pack. the best wolf GBest, so the approach of the ﬁrst part means changing

the order <1, 3, 8> into <3, 1, 8>. Subsequently, in order to ﬁnish the

approach of the second part, the numbers of cities assigned to the

corresponding salesmen are classiﬁed into 3 groups (bigger, smaller

and equal) compared with the corresponding elements in the best

wolf GBest. The approach way is to add 1 to a random element

in the smaller group and to subtract 1 from a random element in

the bigger group. Just like the example, the equal group, which is

Secondly, the cost function of each wolf is computed and sorted.

without operation, is {2} for the ﬁrst salesman. The smaller group

We can obtain a small elite wolf group with N’ wolves.

is {2} for the third salesman and the bigger group is {4} for the

Step 2: The evaluation of the cost functions of all wolves.

second salesman. So the original sequence changes from <2, 4, 2>

to <2, 3, 3> by adding <0, −1, 1>.

Step 4.a: The approach of the ﬁrst part of each wolf.

The elites are chosen based on the obtained cost functions. These

elites make a small local optimization around themselves. The local

search scale R is deﬁned as 1, which means that only 1R = 1 element

in the ﬁrst part and 2R = 2 elements in the second part need to be Step 4.b: The approach of the second part of each wolf.

operated. When R is bigger than 1, which is deﬁned as that this

step is repeated for R times. Then, the safari process of the elites

are deﬁned as the following two steps: a. As shown in ﬁgure, we

randomly select an element {4} from the ﬁrst part of i-th wolf. Two

new wolves will be generated by changing the order between {4}

and its two adjacent elements {6} and {1}, then the cost functions

of these three wolves will be computed and sorted. The best one

will replace the original one; b. Then, two elements in the second

part are chosen randomly to add <1, −1> and <−1, 1> to them. If

the original element is 1 or n-m + 1, they only need to add <1, −1>

or <−1, 1> instead of both of them. Suppose the number of cities

visited by each of the m salesman is represented by (x1 , x2 , . . .,

xm ). The second parts of two new obtained wolves must meet: x1 +

718 Y. Chen et al. / Applied Soft Computing 61 (2017) 714–725

Fifthly, the cost functions of all new wolves are computed and

compared with the original ones. Next, the original best wolf GBest

and the last N* old weak wolves are replaced respectively by a new

wolf wolfnew whose cost function f(wolfnew ) is better than f(GBest)

and N* new random wolves.

Finally, repeat step 2 to step 5 until the ending conditions are

met.

Fig. 3. An example of the inﬁnite loop in the MTWPS algorithm.

discussed in some references [29] and [30] by some test functions.

These test functions are the classical benchmark functions which

include some different characteristics: unimodal, multimodal, reg- target elements of two transposed elements all locate in the same

ular, irregular, separable, nonseparable and multidimensional. The side of their original positions, these two elements may go into an

results show that the WPS algorithm has good convergence and inﬁnite loop. Of course, the probability of keeping the inﬁnite loop

robustness for these functions. It is well known that some integer (1/2)g tends to 0 when the generation g increases. If the inﬁnite loop

programming problems, such as the TSP and the MTSP, are much never stops, the maximum convergence generation of the ﬁrst part

more difﬁcult than the interval optimization problem of the contin- of the wolf will be an inﬁnitude.

uous functions, because of more stringent conditions, much higher For example, the ﬁrst part of an initial wolf is <4, 1, 2, 5, 3> and

dimensions and discreteness. Therefore, for the MTSP, it is a bigger the ﬁrst part of the optimal wolf is <1, 2, 3, 4, 5>. The elements <1,

challenge for the original WPS algorithm and TWPS algorithm. The 2> of the initial wolf may go into the inﬁnite loop, because their

numerical experiment results of the TWPS algorithm will be com- corresponding elements in the best wolf GBest are both smaller

pleted in Section 6. We will ﬁnd that the TWPS algorithm is not a than their initial orders 2 and 3. When they alternately approach

good approach to solve the MTSP. The lack of diversity of the wolf their own corresponding elements, it is an obvious inﬁnite loop.

pack in the updated process is the main reason leading to the bad This example is shown in Fig. 3.

results in the WPS algorithm. There are two main points that will Then, we can assume that, in the whole updated process,

greatly affect the diversity of the wolf pack. We will discuss them the above special circumstance doesn’t exist, which means that

in this part. every two transposed elements only exchange their positions for

once, then the maximum time of this approach operation will

4.1. The discussion of the convergence generation of the TWPS be n(n−1)/2. It can be obtained by a recurrence sequence. Let an

algorithm be the maximum convergence generation of the ﬁrst part of the

wolf with n cities. The recurrence relation between an and an-1 is

The ﬁrst one is the convergence generation of the optimization an = an-1 + n − 1, so, by the help of the superposition method, an is

algorithm. If the convergence generation of a discrete optimiza- n(n−1)/2. Considering there are Step operations in a generation, the

tion algorithm is too small, named the premature problem, which maximum convergence generation will be n(n−1)/(2Step).

means converging too fast and is also the common problem of the Finally, the appearances of the special circumstance are everp-

other algorithms, the diversity of the wolf pack will be decided resent and uncertain. In the worst situation, it can be assumed that

by the convergence generation rather than the maximum termi- the special circumstance continuously happen k times in every two

nal generation. On the contrary, the diversity of the wolf pack will transposed elements in the updated process. Then, the maximum

be decided by the maximum terminal generation. The maximum convergence generation of the ﬁrst part of the wolf will be kn(n-

terminal generation is set artiﬁcially, so we need to ﬁnd a way to 1)/(2Step). At the same time, the probability of breaking out the loop

obtain the convergence generation of the TWPS algorithm. less than k times will be 1−(1/2)k . For the whole updated process,

In the TWPS algorithm, step 3 and step 4 are the only two opera- the probability of this worst situation will be (1−(1/2)k )n(n−1)/2 .

tions which can change the order of the elements to search forward. So, in conclusion, Proposition 1 is proved.

What is more, as step 3 is dependent on the cost functions, it can- In order to further verify its correctness, a numerical simulation

not be discussed broken away from the problems. At the same time, about this remark is shown as follow:

step 3 is the local searcher, which means that it is not the key search Two n-dimension random row vectors meeting all conditions

operation to determine the search direction in this method. Hence, of the ﬁrst part of the wolf are updated by step 4. One represents

we only discuss the effect of step 4. Further, although GBest may be the ﬁrst part of the best wolf and the other one is the ﬁrst part of

changed for many times in the optimization process, the conver- the initial wolf. Because the updated process is stochastic, step 4 is

gence generation is mainly decided by the approach rate between repeated 100,000 times. Then, the convergence generations of the

two wolves based on step 4. Because the whole updated process ﬁrst part of the initial wolf are recorded and shown in Fig. 4, where

is full of uncertainty, we can only estimate the maximum termi- the graticule lines stand for the numerical simulation results and

nal generation of convergence from an initial wolf to an optimal the round lines represent the results obtained by Proposition 1.

wolf only by step 4 and make some numerical simulations in some In the results, we can see that the proportions, whose conver-

typical situations. gence generations are smaller than kn(n-1)/(2Step), become bigger

Proposition 1. Suppose that the optimal wolf is permanent and and verge to 1 with the growing of k. At the same time, each numer-

the initial wolf is chosen randomly, then the convergence genera- ical simulation result is bigger than its corresponding theoretical

tion of the ﬁrst part of the wolf will be smaller than kn(n−1)/(2Step) value (1−(1/2)k )n(n−1)/2 , which veriﬁes the validity of Proposition

with a probability over (1−(1/2)k )n(n−1)/2 , where k is the accommo- 1.

dation coefﬁcient which can improve the accuracy of the estimation Proposition 2. Suppose that the optimal wolf is permanent and

method, and meets k ∈ N+ . the initial wolf is chosen randomly, then the convergence genera-

Proof of Proposition 1: Firstly, we need to discuss a special cir- tion of the second part of the wolf will be the maximal difference

cumstance in the updated process. Based on Step 4.a, when the value of the corresponding elements.

Y. Chen et al. / Applied Soft Computing 61 (2017) 714–725 719

examples to prove this proposition. Because step 3 is a local

searcher which greatly depends on the problem and the character-

istics of populations, we only consider step 4, which mainly decides

the updated process of the WPS algorithm. For example, there are

only two wolves in the initial populations: GBest is <1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,

7, 3, 4> and the other one is <3, 2, 1, 7, 6, 5, 4, 4, 3>. The ﬁrst parts

of them respectively are <1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7> and <3, 2, 1, 7, 6, 5, 4>,

Fig. 4. The numerical simulation for Proposition 1. and the rest two elements are their second parts. This example is a

typical case. It is shown in Fig. 5.

Based on step 4.b, this proposition is true obviously. For exam- As shown in the ﬁgure, it is easy to see that the search space of

ple, the second part of an initial wolf is <1, 2, 3> and the ones of wolfi is limited by GBest. The elements cannot break through the

optimal wolf is <2, 2, 2>. Then, the maximal difference of the cor- dotted portion. For the ﬁrst part, the wolves, such as <4, 5, 6, 7, 1, 2,

responding elements is |1-2| = |3-2| = 1. Apparently, based on step 3, 3, 4> and <1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 6, 1>, are impossible to be visited based

4.b, the convergence generation of the second part of an initial wolf on step 4. For the second part, there will be more wolves missing in

is 1 too. the updated process. The search space of the elements of the second

Generally, because the convergence generation of the second part of the wolf wolfi is respectively limited in (3, 6) and (1, 4). Using

part is smaller than n, it is much smaller than the ones of the the existing method, the wolves, such as <1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 1, 6> and

ﬁrst part (n ≤ kn(n−1)/(2Step), if n > 2). The premature problem is <3, 1, 2, 7, 6, 5, 4, 2, 5>, are lost in the search space. The diversity of

mainly decided by the ﬁrst part. In other words, the convergence the solution space is severely limited by the TWPS algorithm. So, in

generation of the whole wolf pack using the WPS is decided by short, the TWPS algorithm does not own the global reachability. In

kn(n-1)/(2Step) largely. Meanwhile, it also means that there are conclusion, Proposition 3 is proved. As a result, we need to modify

only kNn(n−1)/(2Step) different wolves in the whole process at the TWPS algorithm to improve its diversity in Section 5.

most. It is very easy to see that kNn(n−1)/(2Step) is not a very big

number

comparing with the solution space for the two-part wolf 5. The modiﬁed wolf pack search algorithm with the

n−1 transposition and extension operation

n! . Of course, in most situations, the number of the dif-

m−1

ferent wolves is greatly smaller than the theoretical value even. So 5.1. A transposition and extension operation

in order to improve the diversity of the wolf pack, the appropriate

relationship between the approach rate Step and maximum termi- Simply, the main bad effect of the above two points is the lack

nal generation is very signiﬁcant. We will discuss this problem by of diversity in the wolf pack. There are some common measures

the simulations further in Section 6.1.1. that are used to curb this difﬁculty, such as the increase of popula-

tion quantity N and the introduction of the new random wolves in

4.2. The weakness analysis of the WPS algorithm step 5. Of course, the increase of population quantity N is not a good

measure, because it will greatly slow down the computation speed,

The second factor is the reachability problem. First of all, let us which would be like trying to put out a burning cartload of faggots

deﬁne the reachability of an intelligent optimization algorithm. with a cup of water facing so huge solution space. In the early itera-

tions, the new random wolves can help to ﬁnd some potential good

Deﬁnition 1. For an intelligent optimization algorithm, if any wolves compared with the early population with a considerable

solution in the solution space can be obtained by the ﬁnite oper- probability. But with the improvement of the quality of the whole

ations of any group of initial populations without considering the wolf pack, a random generated wolf without the updated process

different optimization problem and the new random complemen- is generally much inferior to the whole population, which will lead

tary populations, the intelligent optimization algorithm is deﬁned to its discard. So these measures cannot overcome these problems

that has the global reachability. fundamentally.

A good intelligent optimization algorithm should not lose any In this section, we propose a new transposition and extension

feasible solutions in its solution space, because these missed fea- (TE) operation, which is a preferable modiﬁed way for the TWPS

sible solutions may include the optimal/suboptimal solution. If an algorithm, in step 5 of the TWPS algorithm to solve the MTSP.

algorithm does not have the global reachability, in some situations, For each wolf, the transposition operation is used in the ﬁrst part

it will never obtain the optimal solution. Even though the decrease of the wolf, which is shown in Fig. 6. It is to obtain a new wolf wolf’i

of the search space may accelerate the search, it could greatly affect by changing the order of elements between two random elements

the optimization solution and make the results greatly depend on <2, 6, 4, 1, 3> into <3, 1, 4, 6, 2>. Then the cost functions of the old

the initial populations and the different optimization problems. So wolf wolfi and the new wolf wolf’I are computed and compared to

the global reachability is a signiﬁcant point to judge the quality of choose the better one. Finally, the better one will replace the old

the intelligent optimization algorithm. wolf wolfi . This simple operation can easily break through the lim-

itation of Fig. 5 to enhance the diversity of the ﬁrst part of the wolf.

Proposition 3. The TWPS algorithm does not have the global At the same time, this operation can easily untie the intersectant

reachability. route and maintain the tour structure in the symmetrical MTSP.

720 Y. Chen et al. / Applied Soft Computing 61 (2017) 714–725

6. Computational results

algorithm for the MTSP are presented to verify its effectiveness.

Except the parameters of the MTSP problem, some algorithm

parameters are shown: the population quantity N = 100, the elitism

quantity N’ = 20, the number of weak wolves N* = 20, the approach

rate Step = 1, the local search scale R = 1 and

6.1. Comparision

Euclidean, two-dimensional symmetric problems with n = 51, 100,

150 cities and m = 3, 5, 10 salesmen, respectively. Similar to

Ref. [11], the coordinates of the cities are selected and trans-

formed from a standard collection of TSPs from the Library of

Fig. 6. The transposition operation of the MTWPS algorithm. Travelling Salesman Problems <http://comopt.iﬁ.uni-heidelberg.

de/software/TSPLIB95/> [11]. For each test problem, the home city

is the ﬁrst city in the list. In these simulations, all the salesmen

must start at the same home city and return to the same home city.

Because of the uncertainty, each problem runs 30 times, and then

its statistical data are presented [31]. In order to correctly show the

performance of this method, the experiments are conducted with

respect to two different cost functions. The stopping criterion of the

TWPS algorithm and the MTWPS algorithm: the maximum terminal

generation Gmax = 20000. The stopping criterions of the contrastive

GA with TCX method presented in the reference [11]: the max-

imum terminal generations 50000 (MTSP51), 100000 (MTSP100)

and 200000 (MTSP150). The reason why the stopping criterions of

these three algorithms are different will be shown in Section 6.3.

The ﬁrst cost function is to minimize the total travel distance

of all salesmen. This objective reﬂects the goal of minimizing the

distance required to visit all n cities. The only constraint used with

this objective is that each salesman must visit at least one city (other

than their home city). Without this constraint, the GA could reduce

the number of salesmen in the problem, hence possibly reducing

the MTSP to a TSP. Because each salesman must start and return to

the home city, the total travel distance of the combined trips also

Fig. 7. The extension operation of the MTWPS algorithm.

tends to increase with the growth of the number of salesmen.

In addition, for every method, each of the starting populations

and the new random wolves in step 5 seed with a solution produced

by a simple greedy heuristic in order to obtain a good starting point.

For the second part of each wolf, an extension operation is intro-

The greedy seeding for the “minimize the total distance” problems

duced to greatly enlarge the search space, which is shown in Fig. 7

is similar to Carter and Ragsdale [10]. The ﬁrst non-home cities of

as an example. Firstly, a set A = {2, 3, 4} which means the limita-

the salesmen in these seeding are stochastic, and then the greedy

tion of the second part is generated by a random element {4} of a

solutions are generated based on the present location of all the

wolf wolfi and its corresponding element {2} of the best wolf GBest.

salesmen to ﬁnd the unassigned city that is the closest to one of the

In this example, the universal set U in the second part based on

salesmen. The closest unassigned city is then assigned to the closest

the constraint of MTSP is {1, 2, 3, 4, 5}. Subsequently, the comple-

salesman. This process is continued until all cities are assigned.

mentary set CU A = {1, 5}, which means the lost solution space, is

Based on these parameters and environment, the computational

obtained by A and U. Then, an element {5} in CU A is selected out

results, including the average cost function (Avg), standard devia-

randomly to create a new second part for the new wolf wolf’i . The

tion (SD) and the best cost function (best), for three algorithms (GA

other elements in the second part are generated randomly as well

with TCX [11], TWPS algorithm and MTWPS algorithm) are shown

as meeting the constraint x1 + x2 +. . . + xm = n,. Finally, the new wolf

as follows:

wolf’i . is compared with the original wolf wolfi in order to replace

In Table 1, we can see that the TWPS algorithm is not a good

it by the better one.

algorithm to solve the MTSP. For the large-sized MTSP, its large

solution spaces are lost during the updated process. With the pos-

itive improvements of the TE operation, the MTWPS algorithm

5.2. The modiﬁed two-part WPS algorithm shows its obvious advantages compared with the TWPS algorithm

and the GA with TCX overall, even though the maximum terminal

With the help of the TE operation, the novel TWPS algorithm is generations of the MTWPS algorithm are much smaller than the

further modiﬁed to solve the MTSP, named modiﬁed two-part WPS ones of the GA with TCX.

(MTWPS) algorithm. The whole MTWPS algorithm is presented by In fact, in Table 1, we can ﬁnd that the advantages of the MTWPS

a pseudo code in Fig. 8. are not very considerable for the large-sized MTSP when the maxi-

Y. Chen et al. / Applied Soft Computing 61 (2017) 714–725 721

Table 1

The computational results of three algorithms.

Data set m TCX Avg TWPS Avg Best SD MTWPS Avg Best SD

MTSP51 5 519 631 608 33 503 499 4

10 670 828 810 19 627 602 21

MTSP100 5 28912 33182 30995 1319 25526 24169 914

10 30988 42414 40893 1094 30751 29897 757

MTSP150 5 47811 55411 52928 2112 46122 45311 575

10 51326 69097 67297 3066 49207 47709 797

mum terminal generation Gmax is set as 20000. Let us make a small kn(n − 1)/(2Step) = 189975, where Step = 1, in the worst situation. Of

discussion about this phenomenon. The theoretical lower bounds course, even though, in common situations, the convergence gen-

of the convergence probability of the wolf in the above 3 MTSPs erations are much smaller than 189975, the maximum terminal

growing with the accommodation coefﬁcient k are shown in Fig. 9. generations in our simulations, which are set as 20000, are insuf-

According to Proposition 1, for the MTSP150, if we demand that ﬁcient seriously. What is more, the above result is obtained based

the theoretical lower bound of the convergence probability of the on the assumption that the optimal wolf is permanent. In the real

wolf (1−(1/2)k )n(n−1)/2 > 90%, the convergence generations will be updated process, the optimal wolf is also constantly updated. So

722 Y. Chen et al. / Applied Soft Computing 61 (2017) 714–725

TE operation, the MTWPS algorithm obtains a better result over-

all compared with the ones of the other two algorithms under

the unfavorable stopping criterion. But the average result for the

problem MTSP100 (m = 10) is worse than that of the GA with TCX

operation. The greatest improvement compared with the TWPS

algorithm is achieved at the MTSP150(m = 10) with 41.18%. Obvi-

ously, the simulation results for minimizing the longest tour have

the similar maximum terminal generation problem which has been

discussed in the above section. So if the maximum terminal gener-

ations of the simulations and the approach rate Step increase, the

results will be better for the large-sized MTSP.

Fig. 9. The convergence probability growing with the accommodation coefﬁcient k. 6.2. Statistical hypothesis testing

belong to the class of stochastic search algorithms, the statistical

in short, in order to guarantee the convergence of the TWPS and

hypothesis tests are very important to show different perfor-

MTWPS algorithm, the maximum terminal generations of the sim-

mance between the three algorithms. Our experiments for the

ulations and the approach rate Step both need to be increased for

three approaches are conducted using 30 independent trials. There

the large-sized MTSP. Because the large simulation generations are

are two common statistical methods for two independent sam-

time-consuming, we only run 5 times for the MTSP150 with n = 3.

ples rank sum tests: t-test and Mann-Whitney U test. The t-test

The maximum terminal generations and the approach rate Step of

is any statistical hypothesis test in which the test data follow a

our simulations are respectively set as 30000 and 3. The result of

Student’s t-distribution under the null hypothesis. So ﬁrstly we

the average cost function, the standard deviation and the best cost

need to conﬁrm whether the results satisfy the normal distribu-

function respectively decrease to 41106, 420 and 40773.

tion assumption. The results of the GA with TCX and the MTWPS

algorithm for problem MTSP51 (m = 3) are tested by using the

6.1.2. Simulation for minimizing longest tour one sample Kolmogorov-Smirnov test function of SPSS20.0. Even

In the real world, most MTSP applications are commonly more though we ﬁnd that the signiﬁcance is bigger than 0.05, their values

interested in minimizing the longest tour of the individual sales- are not big enough to make me believe that they follow the nor-

man, which helps to balance the workloads of different salesmen mal distribution. Hence, we employ statistical hypothesis testing

and to minimize the makespan. The objective of minimizing the using the Mann-Whitney U test. In this paper, the null hypothesis

total travel distance always leads to a result that one salesman uses can be stated such that: “MTWPS does provide same solution qual-

a long time to ﬁnish most of cities and the others only visit one or ity when applied to 30 trials”. Statistical differences are indicated

several cities. Apparently, this result may greatly reduce the work according to the Mann-Whitney U test with a level of signiﬁcance

efﬁciency and the longevity of the whole system. So in this part, at sig = 0.05 (95% conﬁdence). If the statistical tests resulting in a

the cost function is changed to minimize the longest tour of the signiﬁcance level of (sig > 0.05) do not provide enough statistical

individual salesman. By the help of this objective, the cost function evidence to refute or conﬁrm the null hypothesis, it will indicate

values decrease as the number of salesmen increase. that the performance among three algorithms is similar. The results

Similar to the previous simulation, for every method, each of the of the Mann-Whitney U value and the signiﬁcance level obtained

starting populations and the new random wolves are also seeded by SPSS 20.0 are shown in Table 3.

by a simple greedy heuristic. Similarly, the ﬁrst non-home cities of In Table 3, we can see that most signiﬁcance level values are less

the salesmen in these seeding are stochastic, and then the greedy than 0.05, which means to refute the null hypothesis. When the

solutions for “minimize the longest tour” problems are determined maximum terminal generation Gmax increases to 30000, we can

by rotating through all of the salespeople in a round-robin fashion, get that all signiﬁcance level values will be less than 0.05. Hence,

assigning the closest unassigned city to each salesman in turn, and we have the following result: “the MTWPS does provide signiﬁ-

continuing on until all the cities are assigned [10]. cantly different solution quality when applied to 30 trials”. In other

Then, the computational results, including the average cost words, the solutions found by the MTWPS algorithm are statisti-

function (Avg), standard deviation (SD) and the best cost function cally signiﬁcantly better than the solutions found by the other two

(best), for three algorithms, GA with TCX [11], TWPS algorithm and methods (TCX and TWPS) for all cases (MTSP-51, MTSP-100 and

MTWPS algorithm are presented in Table 2. MTPS-150) (Table 9).

Table 2

The computational results of the three algorithms.

Data set m TCX Avg TWPS Avg Best SD MTWPS Avg Best SD

MTSP51 5 154 167 151 11 142 131 8

10 113 132 131 1 112 112 0

MTSP100 5 10086 9290 9190 444 8858 8434 318

10 7064 8016 7814 350 7126 6795 347

MTSP150 5 12619 15712 14726 842 11354 10317 851

10 8054 13641 12417 774 8024 7823 345

Y. Chen et al. / Applied Soft Computing 61 (2017) 714–725 723

Table 3

The Mann-Whitney results of the three algorithms.

MTSP50

MTWPS vs. TWPS 889(0.000) 900(0.000) 900(0.000)

Minimizing total travel MTWPS vs. TCX 900(0.000) 900(0.000) 480(0.623)

MTSP100

distance MTWPS vs. TWPS 900(0.000) 900(0.000) 900(0.000)

MTWPS vs. TCX 608(0.019) 894(0.000) 867(0.000)

MTSP150

MTWPS vs. TWPS 900(0.000) 900(0.000) 900(0.000)

MTSP50

MTWPS vs. TWPS 900(0.000) 900(0.000) 900(0.000)

Minimizing longest MTWPS vs. TCX 900(0.000) 882(0.000) 375(0.267)

MTSP100

tour MTWPS vs. TWPS 900(0.000) 900(0.000) 900(0.000)

MTWPS vs. TCX 693(0.000) 897(0.000) 529(0.245)

MTSP150

MTWPS vs. TWPS 900(0.000) 900(0.000) 900(0.000)

Table 4

Computer system used for the experimental test.

Self-assembly Computer Intel(R) Core(TM) i7–4790 K CPU @ 4.0 GHz 32.00GB DDR3 1600 MHz Windows 7 professional 64 bits MATLAB R2014a

Table 5

Average simulation time of the MTWPS algorithm.

Minimizing total travel

MTSP100 2598s 3897s 6549s

distance

MTSP150 5407s 8197s 14684s

Minimizing longest

MTSP100 3279s 5161s 10022s

tour

MTSP150 6682s 10990s 21972s

algorithm. The time complexity depends upon multiple factors, Fig. 10. The best cost functions of the three methods in the random maps.

including the computational complexity of the algorithm, the com-

plexity level of the optimization problem, the performance of the Table 6

simulation computer, the programming language and so on. The The average cost functions of the MTWPS algorithm for different population sizes.

simulations of our MTWPS algorithm are coded by MATLAB and Population Size N MTSP51 MTSP100 MTSP150

ﬁnished by the following computer systems shown in Table 4.

50 631 31120 50313

Under these conditions, the average simulation time of the 100 627 30751 49207

MTWPS algorithm for all cases (MTSP-51, MTSP-100 and MTPS- 500 614 30150 48519

150) is shown in the following Table 5. 1000 610 29901 48131

In Table 5, we can see that the longest simulation time of these

cases is 21972s. In the reference [11], their all programs were imple-

travel distance of all the salesmen. Then, the best cost functions of

mented in C++. It is well known that, for the same algorithm, its

the three methods are shown in Fig. 10.

CPU time using the MATLAB program is tens times longer than

the time using the C++ program usually. So the maximum terminal

6.4.2. Simulation parameters

generations of the CTX algorithm can be set as 50000, 100000 and

Except the simulation map, the parameter settings are very sig-

200,000 in an acceptable CPU time. If our terminal generations are

niﬁcant for the quality and performance of the MTWPS algorithm.

set as these parameters, 30 trials will cost too much time. So our

So, the robustness and sensitivity of the MTWPS parameters is ana-

maximum terminal generations Gmax are set as 20,000.

lyzed in this part.

The ﬁrst important parameter is the population size of the wolf

6.4. Robustness pack N. In Table 6, the average cost functions of the MTWPS algo-

rithm with the objective of minimizing the total travel distance for

6.4.1. Random maps the MTSP51, MTSP100 and MTSP150 problems (m = 10) are shown

The above simulations are all ﬁnished by some classical data. with the increase of the population size.

Only ﬁnishing these problems is not sufﬁcient to show that the It is easy to understand that the mean values of the solutions

MTWPS algorithm has better performance than the other two decrease with the increase of the population size N, but meanwhile

methods, so the positions of cities are randomly generated in a their computation time will increase.

1000 × 1000 map. Of course, in one simulation, the maps of the The other one is the approach rate Step. In Table 7, the inﬂuence

three algorithms are same. In these simulations, the number of of the approach rate Step for the MTWPS algorithm with the objec-

salesmen m is set as 3. The numbers of cities are respectively set tive of minimizing total travel distance for the MTSP51, MTSP100

as 51, 100 and 150. The cost function is set as the minimum total and MTSP150 problems (m = 10) is shown. It is easy to ﬁnd that,

724 Y. Chen et al. / Applied Soft Computing 61 (2017) 714–725

Table 7 7. Conclusion

The robustness and sensitivity of the MTWPS algorithm for the approach rate.

Approach Rate Avg Best This paper ﬁrstly introduces a novel TWPS algorithm based on

Step the original WPS algorithm in order to solve the MTSP. Secondly, the

MTSP51 MTSP100 MTSP150 MTSP51 MTSP100 MTSP150 convergence performance of the TWPS algorithm is analyzed and

discussed to help to understand the reasonability of the maximum

1 627 30751 49207 602 29897 47709

2 620 30897 48303 602 29897 47129 terminal generation. Then, based on the deﬁnition and discussion

3 631 32021 46724 621 31534 46260 of the global reachability of the initial population in the TWPS algo-

4 630 32317 45862 622 31601 45500 rithm, the TE operation is proposed to break through this weakness

5 664 37211 45606 652 36807 45180 and it can greatly enhance the search ability of the TWPS algorithm,

named the MTWPS algorithm. Finally, some experimental results,

including the comparison, the robustness and the optimality gap,

for the small-sized problem, such as MTSP51 problem, the solution

focused on the objective of minimizing total travel distance and

quality remains the same when the approach rate Step is small and

the objective of minimizing the longest tour are shown that the

it becomes worse when the approach rate Step is bigger than 2. Its

MTWPS algorithm can produce higher solution quality than the

main causes are that for the small-sized problem the maximum ter-

TWPS algorithm and the GA with TCX operator.

minal generation 20000 is big enough to end the updated process

Our future work will focus on two main areas. Firstly, we would

of the algorithm, and meanwhile the too big approach rate Step will

like to ﬁnish the convergence analysis of the MTWPS algorithm

lead to the miss of some potential optimal or sub-optimal points.

by the Markov Chain. Secondly, since many practical problems can

So, for the small-sized problem, the approach rate Step had better

be cast into the MTSP or the MTSPTW, we will apply the MTWPS

be set as 1 or 2. However, for the large-sized problem, especially

algorithm for solving a large-sized MTSPTW problem in the UAV

MTSP150 problem, the solution quality signiﬁcantly improves with

mission planning problem.

the increase of the approach rate Step. The reason has been dis-

cussed in Section 6.1.1.

Acknowledgment

6.5. Optimality gap

We would like to thank A.P. Shoudong Huang (UTS), Dr. M.S.

As a meta-heuristic algorithm, the MTWPS algorithm cannot Yuan for providing us with data sets and useful information.

guarantee to ﬁnd the optimal solutions of the symmetric MTSP.

But it is a good evaluation way to judge whether a meta-heuristic

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