# Greedy Heuristics with Regret, with Application to the Cheapest Insertion Algorithm for the TSP

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1 Greedy Heuristics with Regret, with Application to the Cheapest Insertion Algorithm for the TSP Refael Hassin Ariel Keinan Abstract We considers greedy algorithms that allow partial regret. As an example we consider a variant of the cheapest insertion algorithm for the TSP. Our numerical study indicates that in most cases it significantly reduces the relative error, and the added computational time is quite small. Keywords: Cheapest insertion heuristic, greedy algorithm with regret, traveling salesman problem Introduction Many common heuristics for combinatorial optimization problems are considered as greedy. These are constructive heuristics, designed to produce solutions of reasonable quality without investing the time needed to compute better solutions by other methods, such as meta-heuristics, based on iterative improvements. Greedy algorithms make irrevocable decisions about the construction of a solution, based on local considerations such as preferring the choice that gives immediate best reward or minimum cost. In this note we examine the possibility of improving the quality of a greedy algorithm by allowing it to reconsider decisions made in past steps. We maintain however the greedy spirit of the algorithm by allowing only limited regret, so that the result is still a fast constructive algorithm. Hassin and Levin [2] applied the idea of a greedy algorithm with limited regret to the set covering problem, by allowing the reversal of an earlier decision to include a given set in the solution, if its present impact contradicts the greedy choice. In other words, a decision that wouldn t have been made given the current costs, can be reversed. They proved that such a modification improves the worst case error for the weighted set covering problem. This note presents a preliminary study of the possible practical benefits associated with incorporating limited regret into greedy heuristics. In this study, we apply the idea to a well known greedy type algorithm for the traveling salesman problem, and run a computational experiment to check its usefulness. It should be emphasized that our goal in this study is to examine the effect of allowing regret in the greedy approach. A variant that may be competitive with known best heuristics should incorporate further features such as randomization and repeated application, for example as suggested by Brest and Žerovnik [1]. However, we chose to apply the idea to the generic cheapest insertion algorithm so that its effect can be assessed without the need to calibrate the parameters of a more sophisticated algorithm. We find that indeed incorporating limited regret considerably reduces the average relative error of the algorithm. Specifically, we have applied the algorithm to all TSPLIB undirected problems with less than 4000 vertices and obtained an average typical reduction of the relative error from 16.4% to 11.8%. The added running time is about 70%. Department of Statistics and Operations Research, Tel-Aviv University, Tel-Aviv 69978, Israel. Tel: Department of Statistics and Operations Research, Tel-Aviv University, Tel-Aviv 69978, Israel. 1

2 This result indicates that such ideas are potentially useful for a variety of other greedy type algorithms, and encourages further theoretical and computational study. 1 The algorithm Let G = (V, E), V = {v 1,..., v n }, be a complete edge-weighted undirected graph, with V = {1,..., n}. Denote by c ij the length of (i, j) E. A tour is a Hamiltonian cycle in G, that is, a simple cycle with n vertices. A partial tour is a pair of parallel edges, or a simple cycle in G with at most n 1 vertices. For a partial tour T and a vertex k / T we define insert(t, k) to be the cycle obtained by deleting an edge (i, j) T and inserting instead the two edges (i, k) and (k, j). We say that k is inserted into T. We define by c(t, k) the length increase caused by the insertion of k into T, that is c(t, k) = c(insert(t, k)) c(t ). The Cheapest Insertion algorithm is a well known heuristic for the traveling salesman problem [3]. Moreover, when G is undirected and the edge lengths satisfy the triangle inequality, Rosenkrantz, Stearns, and Lewis [4] proved that it returns a solution of length at most twice the optimal. The algorithm is described in Figure 1. In our version, the initial partial tour is a minimum cost 2-edge cycle. Alternatively, it could start with an arbitrary vertex as the initial partial tour. Cheapest Insertion input A weighted graph G = (V, E). begin k, l := arg min{c ij + c ji : i, j V, i j}. T := (k, l, k). while T is a partial tour v := arg min{c(t, k) : k / T }. T := insert(t, v). end while end Cheapest Insertion Figure 1: The Cheapest Insertion algorithm For a partial tour T and a vertex k T we define delete(t, k) to be a shortest cycle obtained by deleting from T the two edges incident with k, say (i, k) and (k, j), and replacing them by (i, j). We say that k is deleted from T and mark the resulting subtour by delete(t, k). Thus, deletion is the inverse operation of insertion. We define by c (T, k) the length reduction caused by the deletion of k from T, that is c (T, k) = c(t ) c(delete(t, k)). We propose a modification of the cheapest insertion algorithm, which we call cheapest insertion with regret. The algorithm is described in Figure 2. At each step, we compare the cheapest next insertion and the maximum length reduction caused by deleting a vertex (which is not one of the subtour vertices participating in the insertion) from the current subtour. Note that the deletion operation does not necessarily reverse a previous insertion, since it may be that the deleted vertex has been added with different edges than those which are now deleted. Still we might think about the deletion step as a regret in the sense that we allow giving up part of the subtour if we see that it costs more than the new insertion. A further step in the direction of the new algorithm would be to allow more than a single deletion, however this might result in long series of insertion and deletions and even in lack of convergence of the algorithm caused by cyclic sequences of subtours, as we illustrate in the next 2

3 section. In contrast, the version we propose converges since at each step we either obtain a subtour with an additional vertex, or we get a strictly shorter subtour with the same number of vertices as before. Cheapest Insertion with Regret input A weighted graph G = (V, E). begin k, l := arg min{c ij + c ji : i, j V, i j}. T := (k, l, k). while T is a partial tour v := arg min{c(t, k) : k / T }. (i, j) := the edge of T replaced in insert(t, v). u := arg max{c (T, k) : k T \ {i, j}}. if c(t, v) c (T, u) then T := insert(t, v). else T := insert(delete(t, u), v). end if end while end Cheapest Insertion with Regret Figure 2: The Cheapest Insertion with Regret algorithm 2 An example Figure 3 (a)-(f) illustrates how the algorithm works. We consider six points in the plane at locations (0, 3), (0, 4), (1, 0), (1, 1), (1, 3), and (2, 3), with the Euclidean distances. The algorithm starts with a shortest 2-edge cycle on the points at (1, 0) and (1, 1), and then inserts the point (1, 3) reaching illustration (a). At this instant, the best insertion is of (2, 3) costing This insertion allows only one deletion, of (1, 1) of value 0 < 1.16 and thus the deletion is not done. The subsequent iterations are illustrated in the figure, showing also the relevant c(t, k) values for non-cycle points and c (T, k) values for cycle points. An interesting step is the passage from (b) to (c) which involves an insertion and a deletion. A natural extension of the algorithm allows for several deletions while executing an insertion step, if all of these deletions do not interfere with the insertion and have higher values. We have tried this version and found out that in some cases it gives better results, but in others it tends to cycle. The latter phenomenon is not restricted to pathological cases but does happen often. To illustrate the possibility of cycling we slightly modify our example and assume that the upper left point is slightly higher, at (0, 4+ɛ) for some small ɛ > 0. The first cycles are as in illustrations (a)-(c). However, at this instant, there is a second deletion with value higher than the planned insertion, that of deleting the bottom point of the cycle, with value 2.47 > Performing this deletion, the algorithm moves to the cycles given in (d )-(f ) and then back to (c). 3

4 (a) (b) (c) (d) (e) (f) ɛ (d ) (e ) (f ) 1.93 Figure 3: Example 4

5 3 Computational Results We have tested the cheapest insertion with regret algorithm on the test problems in the TSPLIB ( The results for the symmetric instances are given in Table 1. The first column gives the problem s name including the number of vertices in the graph. The second column gives the type of the distance function, as explained in the TSPLIB site. The third column gives the error of the standard cheapest insertion algorithm over the optimal solution as given in TSPLIB. It is given in percents and rounded to the nearest integer. The fourth column gives the same results but when the cheapest insertion with regret algorithm is applied to the instance. We note that the average error obtained for the standard algorithm is 16.4% whereas when regret is allowed the average ratio decreases to 11.8%. The number of iterations in the standard algorithm is of course V, and when regret is allowed it goes up to approximately 1.7 V reflecting the added iterations in which there is also a deletion. References [1] J. Brest and J. Žerovnik, A heuristic for the asymmetric traveling salesman problem, The 6th Metaheuristic International Conference, MIC2005, [2] R. Hassin and A. Levin, A better-than-greedy approximation algorithm for the minimum set cover problem, SIAM J. on Computing 35 (2005) [3] D.S. Johnson and C.H. Papadimitriou, Performance guarantees for heuristics. Ch. 5 in The Traveling Salesman Problem, E.L. Lawler, J.K. Lenstra, A.H.G. Rinnooy Kan, and D.B. Shmoys, (editors), Wiley & Sons, Chichester (1985). [4] D.J. Rosenkrantz, R.E. Stearns, and P.M. Lewis II, An analysis of several heuristics for the traveling salesman problem, SIAM J. Comput. 6, ,

6 Problem Type CI CIR bayg-29 matrix 15 8 bays-29 matrix 5 5 dantzig-42 matrix swiss-42 matrix gr-48 matrix 16 7 hk-48 matrix 14 7 eil-51 euc 9 7 berlin-52 euc brazil-58 matrix st-70 euc 17 9 eil-76 euc pr-76 euc gr-96 geo rat-99 euc kroa-100 euc krob-100 euc kroc-100 euc krod-100 euc kroe-100 euc 15 9 rd-100 euc eil-101 euc lin-105 euc pr-107 euc gr-120 matrix pr-124 euc 12 3 bier-127 euc ch-130 euc pr-136 euc gr-137 geo pr-144 euc 25 5 ch-150 euc kora-150 euc korb-150 euc pr-152 euc u-159 euc si-175 matrix 4 3 brg-180 matrix rat-195 euc d-198 euc 12 7 kora-200 euc korb-200 euc gr-202 geo ts-225 euc tsp-225 euc Problem Type CI CIR pr-226 euc gr-229 geo gil-262 euc pr-264 euc pr-299 euc lin-318 euc rd-400 euc fl-417 euc 21 7 gr-431 geo pr-439 euc pcb-442 euc d-493 euc ali-535 geo si-535 matrix 2 2 pa-561 matrix u-574 euc rat-575 euc p-654 euc d-657 euc gr-666 geo u-724 euc rat-783 euc pr-1002 euc si-1032 matrix 0 1 u-1060 euc vm-1084 euc pcb-1173 euc d-1291 euc rl-1304 euc rl-1323 euc nrw-1379 euc fl-1400 euc 16 9 u-1432 euc 12 8 fl-1577 euc d-1655 euc vm-1748 euc u-1817 euc rl-1889 euc d-2103 euc 10 5 u-2152 euc u-2319 euc 9 4 pr-2392 euc pcb-3038 euc fl-3795 euc Table 1 6

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