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Linear bilevel optimization problems are known to be strongly NP-hard and the computational techniques to solve these problems are often motivated by techniques from single-level mixed-integer optimization. Thus, during the last years and decades many branch-and-bound methods, cutting planes, or heuristics have been proposed. On the other hand, there is almost no literature on presolving linear bilevel problems although presolve is a very important ingredient in state-of-the-art mixed-integer optimization solvers. In this paper, we carry over standard presolve techniques from single-level optimization to bilevel problems and show that this needs to be done with great caution since a naive application of well-known techniques does often not lead to correctly presolved bilevel models. Our numerical study shows that presolve can also be very beneficial for bilevel problems but also highlights that these methods have a more heterogeneous effect on the solution process compared to what is known from single-level optimization. As a side result, our numerical experiments reveal that there is an urgent need for better and more heterogeneous test instance libraries to further propel the field of computational bilevel optimization.

Bilevel optimization is an increasingly important tool to model hierarchical decision making. However, the ability of modeling such settings makes bilevel problems hard to solve in theory and practice. In this paper, we add on the general difficulty of this class of problems by further incorporating convex black-box constraints in the lower level. For this setup, we develop a cutting-plane algorithm that computes approximate bilevel-feasible points. We apply this method to a bilevel model of the European gas market in which we use a joint chance constraint to model uncertain loads. Since the chance constraint is not available in closed form, this fits into the black-box setting studied before. For the applied model, we use further problem-specific insights to derive bounds on the objective value of the bilevel problem. By doing so, we are able to show that we solve the application problem to approximate global optimality. In our numerical case study we are thus able to evaluate the welfare sensitivity in dependence of the achieved safety level of uncertain load coverage.

Bilevel Optimization Approaches to Decide the Feasibility of Bookings in the European Gas Market
(2021)

The European gas market is organized as a so-called entry-exit system with the main goal to decouple transport and trading. To this end, gas traders and the transmission system operator (TSO) sign so-called booking contracts that grant capacity rights to traders to inject or withdraw gas at certain nodes up to this capacity. On a day-ahead basis, traders then nominate the actual amount of gas within the previously booked capacities. By signing a booking contract, the TSO guarantees that all nominations within the booking bounds can be transported through the network. This results in a highly challenging mathematical problem. Using potential-based flows to model stationary gas physics, feasible bookings on passive networks, i.e., networks without controllable elements, have been characterized in the recent literature. In this paper, we consider networks with linearly modeled active elements such as compressors and control valves that do not lie on cycles of the network. Since these active elements allow the TSO to control the gas flow, the single-level approaches from the literature are no longer applicable. We thus present a bilevel approach to decide the feasibility of bookings in networks with active elements. Besides the classical Karush-Kuhn-Tucker reformulation, we obtain three problem-specific optimal-value-function reformulations, which also lead to novel characterizations of feasible bookings in active networks. We compare the performance of our methods by a case study based on data from the GasLib.

Many applications of bilevel optimization contain a leader facing a follower whose reaction deviates from the one expected by the leader due to some kind of bounded rationality. We consider bilinear bilevel problems with follower's response uncertainty due to limited observability regarding the leader's decision and exploit robust optimization to model the decision making of the follower. We show that the robust counterpart of the lower level allows to tackle the problem via the lower level's KKT conditions.

Bilevel optimization is a field of mathematical programming in which some variables are constrained to be the solution of another optimization problem. As a consequence, bilevel optimization is able to model hierarchical decision processes. This is appealing for modeling real-world problems, but it also makes the resulting optimization models hard to solve in theory and practice. The scientific interest in computational bilevel optimization increased a lot over the last decade and is still growing. Independent of whether the bilevel problem itself contains integer variables or not, many state-of-the-art solution approaches for bilevel optimization make use of techniques that originate from mixed-integer programming. These techniques include branch-and-bound methods, cutting planes and, thus, branch-and-cut approaches, or problem-specific decomposition methods. In this survey article, we review bilevel-tailored approaches that exploit these mixed-integer programming techniques to solve bilevel optimization problems. To this end, we first consider bilevel problems with convex or, in particular, linear lower-level problems. The discussed solution methods in this field stem from original works from the 1980's but, on the other hand, are still actively researched today. Second, we review modern algorithmic approaches to solve mixed-integer bilevel problems that contain integrality constraints in the lower level. Moreover, we also briefly discuss the area of mixed-integer nonlinear bilevel problems. Third, we devote some attention to more specific fields such as pricing or interdiction models that genuinely contain bilinear and thus nonconvex aspects. Finally, we sketch a list of open questions from the areas of algorithmic and computational bilevel optimization, which may lead to interesting future research that will further propel this fascinating and active field of research.

Time-Domain Decomposition for Optimal Control Problems Governed by Semilinear Hyperbolic Systems
(2020)

In this article, we extend the time-domain decomposition method described by Lagnese and Leugering (2003) to semilinear optimal control problems for hyperbolic balance laws with spatio-temporal varying coefficients. We provide the design of the iterative method applied to the global first-order optimality system, prove its convergence, and derive an a posteriori error estimate. The analysis is done entirely on the continuous level. The most distinguishing feature of the method is that the decomposed optimality system can be interpreted as an optimality system of a local "virtual" optimal control problem. A typical example and further comments are given to show the range of potential applications.

We consider a novel class of linear bilevel optimization models with a lower level that is a linear program with complementarity constraints (LPCC). We present different single-level reformulations depending on whether the linear complementarity problem (LCP) as part of the lower-level constraint set depends on the upper-level decisions or not as well as on whether the LCP matrix is positive definite or positive semidefinite. Moreover, we illustrate the connection to linear trilevel models that can be reduced to bilevel problems with LPCC lower levels having positive (semi)definite matrices. Finally, we provide two generic and illustrative bilevel models from the fields of transportation and energy to show the practical relevance of the newly introduced class of bilevel problems and show related theoretical results.

Linear bilevel optimization problems have gained increasing attention both in theory as well as in practical applications of Operations Research (OR) during the last years and decades. The latter is mainly due to the ability of this class of problems to model hierarchical decision processes. However, this ability makes bilevel problems also very hard to solve. Since no general-purpose solvers are available, a "best-practice" has developed in the applied OR community, in which not all people want to develop tailored algorithms but "just use" bilevel optimization as a modeling tool for practice. This best-practice is the big-M reformulation of the Karush-Kuhn-Tucker (KKT) conditions of the lower-level problem - an approach that has been shown to be highly problematic by Pineda and Morales (2019). Choosing invalid values for M yields solutions that may be arbitrarily bad. Checking the validity of the big-Ms is however shown to be as hard as solving the original bilevel problem in Kleinert et al. (2019). Nevertheless, due to its appealing simplicity, especially w.r.t. the required implementation effort, this ready-to-use approach still is the most popular method. Until now, there has been a lack of approaches that are competitive both in terms of implementation effort and computational cost.
In this note we demonstrate that there is indeed another competitive ready-to-use approach: If the SOS-1 technique is applied to the KKT complementarity conditions, adding the simple additional root-node inequality developed by Kleinert et al. (2020) leads to a competitive performance - without having all the possible theoretical disadvantages of the big-M approach.

We present a solution framework for general alternating current optimal power flow (AC OPF) problems that include discrete decisions. The latter occur, for instance, in the context of the curtailment of renewables or the switching of power generation units and transmission lines. Our approach delivers globally optimal solutions and is provably convergent. We model AC OPF problems with discrete decisions as mixed-integer nonlinear programs. The solution method is essentially based on using piecewise linear relaxations that we model as mixed-integer linear programs. These relaxations are adaptively refined until some termination criterion is fulfilled. The method is complemented by problem specific mixed-integer second-order cone programs that deliver tight dual bounds. Finally, we present extensive numerical results for various discrete AC OPF problems that demonstrate the applicability of our method. Even for instances with a large proportion of discrete decisions we are able to generate high quality solutions efficiently.

The European gas market is implemented as an entry-exit system, which aims to decouple transport and trading of gas. It has been modeled in the literature as a four-level problem, which contains a nonlinear flow model of gas physics. Besides the multilevel structure and the nonlinear flow model, the computation of so-called technical capacities is another major challenge. These lead to nonlinear adjustable robust constraints that are computationally intractable in general. We provide techniques to equivalently reformulate these nonlinear adjustable constraints as finitely many convex constraints including integer variables in the case that the underlying network is tree-shaped. We further derive additional combinatorial constraints that significantly speed up the solution process. Using our results, we can recast the four-level model as a single-level nonconvex mixed-integer nonlinear problem, which we then solve on a real-world network, namely the Greek gas network, to global optimality. Overall, this is the first time that the considered four-level entry-exit system can be solved for a real-world sized network and a nonlinear flow model.