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May 01, 2012

Spring 2012

Min/Max Multiple Traveling Salesmen Problem: Modified GA with a 2-Opt Mutation

1. Introduction

Although there exists a great deal of research dealing with the Traveling Salesmen Problem

(TSP), only limited attention has been given to the Multiple Traveling Salesmen Problem

(MTSP) [1]. Traditionally, the MTSP is defined as m-salesmen visiting n-cities exactly once

while minimizing the overall total distance traveled. The min/max variation uses a different

objective (cost) function of minimizing the distance of the salesman with the longest path.

Min/max MTSP has many useful applications because it helps balance the work-load among the

salesmen, which leads to similar mission completion times. Parlaktuna [4] explains how Vehicle

Routing Problems utilize the MTSP in path planning. The planning of autonomous homogenous

robots’ deployment demonstrates one of the general applications for the MTSP [1]. Real-world

examples may include deployment of multiple sinks in a wireless sensor network, land-mine

exploration [4], or transporting loads from one node or another [4].

**Heuristic approaches remain the most popular solution methods for MTSP, because they
**

scale better than the exact solution methods [1]. Genetic algorithms (GAs) are a type of

evolutionary based algorithm, which are stochastic and model natural phenomena of genetic

inheritance and Darwinian survival of the fittest [5]. Research shows GAs’ effectiveness at

finding a near optimal solution to the min/max MTSP problem [2]. Even though GAs possess

strong global searching ability, they can have slow convergence or fall into a local minimum

[10]. GAs using mutation, crossovers, and a form of elitism perform better than GAs that do not

1

**utilize all three [3]. While there has been previous research on improving the GA with a local
**

search [10,11,12], the research does not utilize the most effective GA algorithms available. To

the author’s knowledge, there has not been any research towards solving the min/max MTSP

problem with a GA utilizing local search methods.

**The paper is organized with Section 2 providing a background into GAs and providing
**

explanations for all operators used in the algorithm. Section 3 explains the modified two-part

chromosome algorithm. Section 4 contains a comparison of three different GAs though a

Matlab® simulation, showing the improvements the modified GA algorithm creates. The paper

concludes with section 5, with possibilities of further studies.

2. GA’s Background

GAs contain five components: genetic representations called chromosomes, ways to

create an initial population of potential solutions, a fitness function, operators to create offspring,

and values of needed parameters such as population size, mutation rates, etc. [5]

2.1 Chromosome representation

Chromosome representation plays a large role in the effectiveness and efficiency of

finding a near-optimal solution. There exist three different types of chromosome representations,

which have been studied and compared [6]. Previous research proves the two-part chromosome

method as the most efficient and effective method [6], therefore the author utilizes this approach.

**The figures 1, 2, and 3 by Carter and Ragsdale [6] demonstrate the differences between
**

the three types. [8] The one chromosome technique [8] in Figure 1 partitions the salesman’s

routes by m-1 negative integers, where m is the number of salesmen. For example, cities 2, 5, 14,

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**6 belong to salesmen 1. There are (n + m –1)! possible solutions to the problem with many
**

possible redundant options.

**The two chromosome technique [9] in Fig. 2 shows an additional chromosome which
**

keeps track of the salesman assigned to each city. For examples, salesman 2 follows a route of 2,

8, 12, and 9. This technique has

possible solutions because of possible redundant

solutions [6].

**Lastly, the two-part chromosome in Figure 3 maintains the number of cities per salesman
**

in the second part of the chromosome. For example, the first 4 cities, 2 , 5, 14, and 6 belong to

Salesman 1. It has been shown the solution space of the two-part chromosome decreases to

. The solution space size contributes the most to the efficiency of the two-part

chromosome method.

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2.2 Initializing Population

Even though initial population can be seeded, the typical approach is a random generation

[5].

In order to maintain genetic diversity, choosing a large enough pool is very important. If the

initial population pool is too small, early convergence may be an issue. Each salesman receives a

random route.

2.3 Fitness Function

The MTSP min/max variation dictates the fitness function. The fitness function evaluates

each chromosome in the randomly selected population, finding the salesman with the longest

route. Comparing the distances of the maximum routes, the shortest distances are given a

preference to continue onwards. The most popular methods are utilizing either a Roulette Wheel

or Tournament Style selection method. [5] The Roulette Wheel assigns a percentage to the

evaluated populations, with the best population having a higher percentage of selection. The

Tournament Style simply choses the most fit chromosome or chromosomes to create offspring.

**2.4 Population Generators (Crossovers, Mutations, and 2-Opt)
**

From the chosen chromosomes (parents), new offspring are created. The two main

approaches for creating new populations are utilizing crossovers and/or mutations. A certain

probability is assigned to each change, so crossovers or mutations may not occur to all selected

individuals. [5]

2.4.1 Crossovers Operators

Crossover operators focus on similarities between chromosomes [5], which keep the best

chromosomes in the population. Many different crossover operators exist [5], which change the

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routing portions of the chromosomes. For the current work, the two-point central crossover and

cycling crossover are utilized because they showed the most promise in new research [7]. In

Figure 4, [7], two random numbers select cutting positions Parent A. The elements between cut 1

and cut 2 reorder according to their position in Parent B. Offspring B works the same, where it

copies Parent B, except the genes between cut 1 and cut 2 reorder according to their position in

parent A.

Fig. 4 Two-Point Crossover Operator [7]

**Figure 5 demonstrates the cycling crossover method. [7] A random position chosen in
**

parent A swaps with the same position in parent B. Then the element in parent B is located in

parent A to find to new swapping positions. The swapping and finding continue until the starting

element from parent A is located in parent B.

5

Fig. 5 Cycling Crossover Operator [7]

**In the two-part chromosomes, the second part of the chromosomes containing the
**

assigned cities may go through crossovers and mutations also. The current work uses two

different arithmetic crossovers from Chen’s [7] promising research. Equations 1 and 2 take two

random chromosomes and find the weighted-sum values at position k in both parents. Alpha is a

random value between (0, 1). Equation 3 and 4 is another arithmetic crossover [7]. The two

chromosomes mate at position k by combining, scaling, and then adding. The algorithm checks

the chromosomes for feasibility by making sure the summation of each city routes equals n

cities. If not, cities are randomly distributed or removed between the salesmen until n-cities are

visited for both chromosomes.

2.4.2 Mutations

Mutations allow for genetic diversity, which aids in preventing early convergence [5].

Similar to the crossovers, there are different options for mutation operators. Two simple

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mutations are the inverse and swap, which changes the 1st part of the chromosome in the current

work. Figure 6 illustrates the inverse operator [7]. The genes within two random points reverse

their order. The swapping mutation simply chooses two random positions within a chromosome

and switches the elements.

Fig. 6 Inverse Mutation [7]

In the two-part chromosome, the second part of the chromosome may mutate. Cities from

one randomly selected salesman are moved to another random salesman, Formula 7 and 8 [7].

Similar to the crossover procedures, the second part of the chromosome checks for errors. If

solutions are not feasible, then the algorithm adds or reallocates cities randomly to salesmen.

**2.4.3 Two-Opt Operator
**

The 2-opt algorithm is a local search algorithm. The operator minimizes each salesman’s route

by deleting two edges and reconnecting those cities by adding two new edges. The 2-opt

algorithm rids a route of self-crossing portions [11]. See Figure 7 for illustration.

7

Fig. 7 Two-Opt Algorithm [11]

2.5 Parameter in Algorithm

GAs allow for many different variations, which will affect the performance of the

algorithm [5]. Chosen parameters include population pool size, selection size, probabilities for

crossovers, mutations, chromosome selections, and other fitness function requirements. The

fitness function requirements may include a min or max number of cities a salesman visits or

timing constraints. The convergence parameter dictates the number of cycles the GA will process

a “best fit solution” to end the algorithm. If the convergence number is too low, the GA will

converge to a local minimum. If the convergence number is too high, the GA will process for an

unnecessary amount of time. When choosing parameters, there does not seem to be a best

method in choosing the strongest parameters besides trial and error [7]. In the current work, the

algorithm uses trial and error methods with previous research in choosing parameters [7].

3. Modified Two-Part Chromosome Algorithm

**Step 1: Create a random population pool, p. Select x random number of chromosomes to
**

evaluate. Choose the convergence parameter and global minimum.

**Step 2: Using the fitness function, evaluate the selected chromosomes. From the Tournament
**

approach, select the top two most-fit chromosomes to continue as parents. So there will exist a

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**number one chromosome and a number two chromosome. Update global minimum with the
**

maximum distance a salesmen travels from number one chromosome.

**Step 3: Generate new population group from operators. Choose a probability for each possible
**

change, two central point crossover, cycling crossover, inverse mutation, and swapping mutation

to occur on the best and second best solution. The 2-opt algorithm iterates on each best solution,

until it becomes the global minimum. When the best solution becomes the global minimum, the

2-opt algorithm occurs on the second best solution with some defined probability.

**Step 4: Repeat step 2. If the best solution’s fitness exceeds the global minimum, repeat step 3
**

with new best solution. Otherwise, retain previous best solution, and repeat step 3.

**Step 5: If the global minimum remains the same for convergence parameter the algorithm stops
**

with the best solution to the min/max MTSP.

4. Experiment

4.1 Set-Up

An average was taken from 30 simulations, which ran in Matlab® 7 on an Intel® Core™

i5 CPU, 3.33 GHz. The simulations compared single, 2-part, and modified 2-part chromosome

methods. Two chromosome method was left out because there have been studies showing it

under performing the single and 2-part methods [6]. Cities sizes had sparse density at 25 cities,

low medium density at 50 cities, medium density at 100 cities, and high density at 150 cities.

Initial population sizes were approximately double the city size in order to ensure a diverse

population. Each salesman has to visit at least two cities. Matlab® produced the city maps with

the rand function. Crossover rate was set at 0.9, and mutation rates set at 0.5. The 2-opt mutation

rate for the second best solution is set at 0.5. These rates were derived from test simulations

9

**yielding the best results. Convergence parameter was set at 1,000 cycles. Iterations were the
**

number of new best solutions, which were processed out. The higher the number of iterations,

the longer the GAs ran.

4.2 Results

Figures below provide the results from each set of simulations. The modified two-part

chromosome algorithm overall performed well in the various density scenarios. Performance

exceled most when the salesmen were fewer, ie m=2 or m=5. Both the maximum distance and

iterations were significantly less than the one and two-part chromosome methods. Also, the

modified algorithm performed best in the sparse density scenario. When the number of salesmen

were higher, the improvements in final distances were less drastic. However, the modified

algorithm always produced a result in less number of iterations.

25 Cities

One Chromosome

Iterations

Two-Part Chromosome

Iterations

Modified Two-Part Chromosome

Iterations

m=2

2150

1990

2142.5

1990

2036

1439

m=5

1655.3

2030

1574.9

1936

1554.4

1897

m=10

1333.2

1987

1319.9

2379

1307

2179

10

50 Cities

One Chromosome

Iterations

Two-Part Chromosome

Iterations

Modified Two-Part Chromosome

Iterations

100 Cities

One Chromosome

Iterations

Two-Part Chromosome

Iterations

Modified Two-Part Chromosome

Iterations

m=2

3716.4

3050

3756.9

3240

3464.3

2406

m=5

1956.7

4152

1917

4957

1890.6

5321

m=10

1500.9

4322

1405

5732

1400

5393

m=2

4739.4

5645

4810.5

5340

4241.5

2780

m=5

2409.9

7949

2358.3

10002

2365.2

8339

m=10

1786.4

9154

1650.3

10936

1650.2

10381

m=20

1445.8

8464

1417.3

12134

1415.8

5773

11

150 Cities

One Chromosome

Iterations

Two-Part Chromosome

Iterations

Modified Two-Part Chromosome

Iterations

m=2

5817.6

7732

5679.2

7205

5020.4

3272

m=5

2831.2

12154

2730.8

14810

2671.7

11777

m=10

1956.4

14269

1963.4

17879

1808

16133

m=20

1493.6

13544

1454

19096

1451.9

16448

5. Conclusion

The current work improved some of the GA’s shortcomings including computation time

and falling into a local minimum. The modified GA algorithm with 2-opt mutation enhanced the

results of the min/max MTSP problem, when compared to the standard GA algorithm practices.

Overall, the longest distance and the number of iterations decreased. For further studies,

improvements may be found by exploring more efficient local search methods, trying seeded

initial solutions, and different crossover and mutation methods.

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6. References

[1] Tolga Bektas. “The Multiple traveling salesman problem: an overview of formulations and

solution procedures”, Omega 34, The International Journal of Management Science, 2006,

pp. 209-219.

[2] Zhong Yu, Liang Jinhai, Gu Guochang, Zhang Rubo, Yang Haiyan, “An Implementation of

Evolutionary Computation for Path Planning of Cooperative Mobile Robots” , Proceeding of

the 4th World Congress on Intelligent Control and Automation, 2002, pp. 1798-1802.

[3] Donald Sofge, Alan Schultz, and Kenneth De Jong, “Evolutionary Computational

Approaches to Solving the Multiple Traveling Salesman Problem Using a Neighborhood

Attractor Schema”, EvoWorkshops, 2002, pp 153-162.

[4] Osman Parlaktuna, Aydm Sipahioglu, Ahmet Yazici, “ A VRP-Based Route Planning for a

Mobile Robot Group”, Turl J Elec Engin Vol 15, 2007, pp. 187-197.

[5] Mehmed Kantardzic, Data Mining: Concepts, Models, Methods, and Algorithms, 2nd

Editions, 2011 pp. 385-401.

[6] Arthur E. Carter, Cliff T. Ragsdale, “A New Approach to solving the multiple traveling

salesperson problem using genetic algorithms”, European Journal of Operational Research

175, 2006, pp. 246-257.

[7] Shih-Hsin Chen, Mu-Chung Chen, “Operators of the Two-Part Encoding Genetic Algorithm

in Solving the Multiple Traveling Salesmen Problem”, Conference on Technologies and

Applications of Artificial Intelligence, 2011, pp. 331-335.

[8] L. Tang, J. Liu, A. Rong, Z. Yang, “A Multiple Traveling Salesmens Problem Model for Hot

Rolling Schedule in Shanghai Baoshan Iron and Steel Complex”, European Journal of

Operational Research 124(2), 2000, pp. 267-282.

[9] C. Malmborg, “A Genetic Algorithm for Service Level Based Vehicle Scheduling”,

European Joural of Operational Research 93 (1), 1996, 972-989.

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**[10] Wei Zhou, Yuanzong Li, “An Improved Genetic Algorithm for Multiple Traveling
**

Salesman Problem”, Informatics in Control, Automation, and Robotics, 2010, pp.493-496.

[11] Milan Djordjevic, Andrej Brodnik, “Quantitative Analysis of Separate and Combined

Performance of Local Searcher and Genetic Algorithm”, 33rd International Conference of

Information Technology Interfaces, 2011, pp. 515-520.

[12] Peng Gang, Ichiro Limra, Shigeru Nakayama, “A Multiple Heuristic Search Algorithm for

Solving the Traveling Salesman Problem”, Parallel and Distributed Computing Applications

and Technologies, 2003, pp. 779-783.

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