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Assignment Problem

Introduction

In the previous lecture, we discussed about one of the bench mark problems called

transportation problem and its formulation. The assignment problem is a particular class of

transportation linear programming problems with the supplies and demands equal to

integers (often 1). Since all supplies, demands, and bounds on variables are integers, the

assignment problem relies on an interesting property of transportation problems that the

optimal solution will be entirely integers. In this lecture, the structure and formulation of

assignment problem are discussed. Also, traveling salesman problem, which is a special

type of assignment problem, is described.

which

(laborers) to jobs without assigning an agent more than once and ensuring that all jobs are

completed. The objective might be to minimize the total time to complete a set of jobs, or

to maximize skill ratings, maximize the total satisfaction of the group or to minimize the

cost of the assignments. This is subjected to the following requirements:

Optimization Methods: Linear Programming Applications – Assignment Problem 2

Consider m laborers to whom n tasks are assigned. No laborer can either sit idle or do

more than one task. Every pair of person and assigned work has a rating. This rating may

be cost, satisfaction, penalty involved or time taken to finish the job. There will be N2 such

combinations of persons and jobs assigned. Thus, the optimization problem is to find such

man- job combinations that optimize the sum of ratings among all.

represented by treating laborers as sources and the tasks as destinations. The supply

available at each source is 1 and the demand required at each destination is 1.The cost of

assigning (transporting) laborer i to task j is cij.

It is necessary to first balance this problem by adding a dummy laborer or task depending

on whether m<n or m>n, respectively. The cost coefficient cij for this dummy will be zero.

Let xij = ⎨

⎪⎩1, if the j th job is assigned to the i th machine

m n

Minimize ∑∑ c

i =1 j =1

ij xij

Since each task is assigned to exactly one laborer and each laborer is assigned only one

job, the constraints are

Optimization Methods: Linear Programming Applications – Assignment Problem 3

∑x

i =1

ij =1 for j = 1, 2,...n

n

∑x

j =1

ij =1 for i = 1, 2,...m

xij = 0 or 1

Due to the special structure of the assignment problem, the solution can be found out using

a more convenient method called Hungarian method which will be illustrated through an

example below.

Consider three jobs to be assigned to three machines. The cost for each combination is

shown in the table below. Determine the minimal job – machine combinations.

Table 1

Machine

Job

1 2 3 ai

1 5 7 9 1

2 14 10 12 1

3 15 13 16 1

bj 1 1 1

Solution:

Step 1:

Create zero elements in the cost matrix (zero assignment) by subtracting the smallest

element in each row (column) from the corresponding row (column). After this exercise,

the resulting cost matrix is obtained by subtracting 5 from row 1, 10 from row 2 and 13

from row 3.

Optimization Methods: Linear Programming Applications – Assignment Problem 4

Table 2

1 2 3

1 0 2 4

2 4 0 2

3 2 0 3

Step 2:

Table 3

1 2 3

1 0 2 2

2 4 0 0

3 2 0 3

The italicized zero elements represent a feasible solution. Thus the optimal assignment is

(1,1), (2,3) and (3,2). The total cost is equal to 60 (5 +12+13).

In the above example, it was possible to obtain the feasible assignment. But in more

complicated problems, additional rules are required which are explained in the next

example.

Consider four jobs to be assigned to four machines. The cost for each combination is

shown in the table below. Determine the minimal job – machine combinations.

Optimization Methods: Linear Programming Applications – Assignment Problem 5

Table 4

Machine

Job

1 2 3 4 ai

1 1 4 6 3 1

2 8 7 10 9 1

3 4 5 11 7 1

4 6 7 8 5 1

bj 1 1 1 1

Solution:

Step 1: Create zero elements in the cost matrix by subtracting the smallest element in each

row from the corresponding row.

Table 5

1 2 3 4

1 0 3 5 2

2 1 0 3 2

3 0 1 7 3

4 1 2 3 0

Step 2: Repeating the same with columns, the final cost matrix is

Table 6

1 2 3 4

1 0 3 2 2

2 1 0 0 2

3 0 1 4 3

4 1 2 0 0

Optimization Methods: Linear Programming Applications – Assignment Problem 6

Rows 1 and 3 have only one zero element. Both of these are in column 1, which means

that both jobs 1 and 3 should be assigned to machine 1. As one machine can be assigned

with only one job, a feasible assignment to the zero elements is not possible as in the

previous example.

Step 3: Draw a minimum number of lines through some of the rows and columns so that

all the zeros are crossed out.

Table 7

1 2 3 4

1 0 3 2 2

2 1 0 0 2

3 0 1 4 3

4 1 2 0 0

Step 4: Select the smallest uncrossed element (which is 1 here). Subtract it from every

uncrossed element and also add it to every element at the intersection of the two lines.

This will give the following table.

Table 8

1 2 3 4

1 0 2 1 1

2 2 0 0 2

3 0 0 3 2

4 2 2 0 0

This gives a feasible assignment (1,1), (2,3), (3,2) and (4,4) with a total cost of 1+10+5+5

= 21.

If the optimal solution had not been obtained in the last step, then the procedure of

drawing lines has to be repeated until a feasible solution is achieved.

Optimization Methods: Linear Programming Applications – Assignment Problem 7

A traveling salesman has to visit n cities and return to the starting point. He has to start

from any one city and visit each city only once. Suppose he starts from the kth city and the

last city he visited is m. Let the cost of travel from ith city to jth city be cij. Then the

objective function is

m n

Minimize ∑∑ c

i =1 j =1

ij xij

∑x

i =1

ij =1 for j = 1, 2,...n, i ≠ j , i ≠ m

n

∑x

j =1

ij =1 for i = 1, 2,...m, i ≠ j , i ≠ m

xmk = 1

xij = 0 or 1

Solution Procedure:

Solve the problem as an assignment problem using the method used to solve the above

examples. If the solutions thus found out are cyclic in nature, then that is the final solution.

If it is not cyclic, then select the lowest entry in the table (other than zero). Delete the row

and column of this lowest entry and again do the zero assignment in the remaining matrix.

Check whether cyclic assignment is available. If not, include the next higher entry in the

table and the procedure is repeated until a cyclic assignment is obtained.

Optimization Methods: Linear Programming Applications – Assignment Problem 8

Example 3:

Consider a four city TSP for which the cost between the city pairs are as shown in the

figure below. Find the tour of the salesman so that the cost of travel is minimal.

2

6 8

4

5

1 4

9 9

3

Table 9

1 2 3 4

1 ∞ 4 9 5

2 6 ∞ 4 8

3 9 4 ∞ 9

4 5 8 9 ∞

Solution:

Step 1: The optimal solution after using the Hungarian method is shown below.

Table 10

1 2 3 4

1 ∞ 0 5 0

2 2 ∞ 0 3

3 5 0 ∞ 4

4 0 3 4 ∞

Optimization Methods: Linear Programming Applications – Assignment Problem 9

Step 2: Consider the lowest entry ‘2’ of the cell (2,1). If there is a tie in selecting the

lowest entry, then break the tie arbitrarily. Delete the 2nd row and 1st column. Do the zero

assignment in the remaining matrix. The resulting table is

Table 11

1 2 3 4

1 ∞ 0 4 0

2 2 ∞ 0 3

3 5 0 ∞ 4

4 0 0 0 ∞

Thus the next optimal assignment is 1→ 4, 2→1, 3→ 2, 4→ 3 which is cyclic. Thus the

required tour is 1→ 4→3→ 2→ 1 and the total travel cost is 5 + 9 + 4 + 6 = 24.

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