Theoretical and Practical Aspects of Ant Colony Optimization

Blum, C.
Pub. date
July 2004
282 of Dissertations in Artificial Intelligence
ISBN print
Artificial Intelligence, Computer & Communication Sciences, Computer Science
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Combinatorial optimization problems are of high academical and practical importance. Unfortunately, many of them belong to the class of NP-hard problems and are therefore intractable. In other words, as their dimension increases, the time needed by exact methods to find an optimal solution grows exponentially. Metaheuristics are approximate methods for attacking these problems. An approximate method is a technique that is applied in order to find a good enough solution in a reasonable amount of time. Examples of metaheuristics are simulated annealing, tabu search, evolutionary computation, and ant colony optimization (ACO), the subject of this book. The contributions of this book to ACO research are twofold. First, some new theoretical results are proven that improve our understanding of how ACO works. Second, a new framework for ACO algorithms is proposed that is shown to perform at the state-of-the-art level on some important combinatorial optimization problems such as the k-cardinality tree problem and the group shop scheduling problem, which is a general shop scheduling problem that includes among others the well-known job shop scheduling and the open shop scheduling problems.