Solving the vehicle routing problem with deep reinforcement learning [article]

Simone Foa and Corrado Coppola and Giorgio Grani and Laura Palagi
2022 arXiv   pre-print
Recently, the applications of the methodologies of Reinforcement Learning (RL) to NP-Hard Combinatorial optimization problems have become a popular topic. This is essentially due to the nature of the traditional combinatorial algorithms, often based on a trial-and-error process. RL aims at automating this process. At this regard, this paper focuses on the application of RL for the Vehicle Routing Problem (VRP), a famous combinatorial problem that belongs to the class of NP-Hard problems. In
more » ... work, first, the problem is modeled as a Markov Decision Process (MDP) and then the PPO method (which belongs to the Actor-Critic class of Reinforcement learning methods) is applied. In a second phase, the neural architecture behind the Actor and Critic has been established, choosing to adopt a neural architecture based on the Convolutional neural networks, both for the Actor and the Critic. This choice resulted in effectively addressing problems of different sizes. Experiments performed on a wide range of instances show that the algorithm has good generalization capabilities and can reach good solutions in a short time. Comparisons between the algorithm proposed and the state-of-the-art solver OR-TOOLS show that the latter still outperforms the Reinforcement learning algorithm. However, there are future research perspectives, that aim to upgrade the current performance of the algorithm proposed.
arXiv:2208.00202v1 fatcat:ry2vxse6szatrhtvdf6diz5uni