Homotopic Convex Transformation : A New Landscape Smoothing Method for the Traveling Salesman Problem

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)495-507
Journal / PublicationIEEE Transactions on Cybernetics
Issue number1
Online published3 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


This article proposes a novel landscape smoothing method for the symmetric traveling salesman problem (TSP). We first define the homotopic convex (HC) transformation of a TSP as a convex combination of a well-constructed simple TSP and the original TSP. The simple TSP, called the convex-hull TSP, is constructed by transforming a known local or global optimum. We observe that controlled by the coefficient of the convex combination, with local or global optimum: 1) the landscape of the HC transformed TSP is smoothed in terms that its number of local optima is reduced compared to the original TSP and 2) the fitness distance correlation of the HC transformed TSP is increased. Furthermore, we observe that the smoothing effect of the HC transformation depends highly on the quality of the used optimum. A high-quality optimum leads to a better smoothing effect than a low-quality optimum. We then propose an iterative algorithmic framework in which the proposed HC transformation is combined within a heuristic TSP solver. It works as an escaping scheme from local optima aiming to improve the global searchability of the combined heuristic. Case studies using the 3-Opt and the Lin-Kernighan local search as the heuristic solver show that the resultant algorithms significantly outperform their counterparts and two other smoothing-based TSP heuristic solvers on most of the test instances with up to 20 000 cities.

Research Area(s)

  • Combinatorial optimization, homotopic convex (HC) transformation, landscape smoothing, local search, traveling salesman problem (TSP)