Optimization heuristic solutions, how good can they be? With empirical applications in location problems
Sammanfattning: Combinatorial optimization problems, are one of the most important types of problems in operational research. Heuristic and metaheuristics algorithms are widely applied to find a good solution. However, a common problem is that these algorithms do not guarantee that the solution will coincide with the optimum and, hence, many solutions to real world OR-problems are afflicted with an uncertainty about the quality of the solution. The main aim of this thesis is to investigate the usability of statistical bounds to evaluate the quality of heuristic solutions applied to large combinatorial problems. The contributions of this thesis are both methodological and empirical. From a methodological point of view, the usefulness of statistical bounds on p-median problems is thoroughly investigated. The statistical bounds have good performance in providing informative quality assessment under appropriate parameter settings. Also, they outperform the commonly used Lagrangian bounds. It is demonstrated that the statistical bounds are shown to be comparable with the deterministic bounds in quadratic assignment problems. As to empirical research, environment pollution has become a worldwide problem, and transportation can cause a great amount of pollution. A new method for calculating and comparing the CO2-emissions of online and brick-and-mortar retailing is proposed. It leads to the conclusion that online retailing has significantly lesser CO2-emissions. Another problem is that the Swedish regional division is under revision and the border effect to public service accessibility is concerned of both residents and politicians. After analysis, it is shown that borders hinder the optimal location of public services and consequently the highest achievable economic and social utility may not be attained.
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