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Many online problems encountered in real-life involve a two-stage decision process: upon arrival of a new request, an irrevocable first-stage decision (the assignment of a specific resource to the request) must be made immediately, while in a second stage process, certain ``subinstances'' (that is, the instances of all requests assigned to a particular resource) can be solved to optimality (offline) later. We introduce the novel concept of an \emph{Online Target Date Assignment Problem} (\textsc{OnlineTDAP}) as a general framework for online problems with this nature. Requests for the \textsc{OnlineTDAP} become known at certain dates. An online algorithm has to assign a target date to each request, specifying on which date the request should be processed (e.\,g., an appointment with a customer for a washing machine repair). The cost at a target date is given by the \emph{downstream cost}, the optimal cost of processing all requests at that date w.\,r.\,t.\ some fixed downstream offline optimization problem (e.\,g., the cost of an optimal dispatch for service technicians). We provide general competitive algorithms for the \textsc{OnlineTDAP} independently of the particular downstream problem, when the overall objective is to minimize either the sum or the maximum of all downstream costs. As the first basic examples, we analyze the competitive ratios of our algorithms for the par ticular academic downstream problems of bin-packing, nonpreemptive scheduling on identical parallel machines, and routing a traveling salesman.

We study online multicommodity minimum cost routing problems in networks, where commodities have to be routed sequentially. Arcs are equipped with load dependent price functions defining the routing weights. We discuss an online algorithm that routes each commodity by minimizing a convex cost function that depends on the demands that are previously routed. We present a competitive analysis of this algorithm showing that for affine linear price functions this algorithm is $4K/2+K$-competitive, where $K$ is the number of commodities. For the parallel arc case this algorithm is optimal. Without restrictions on the price functions and network, no algorithm is competitive. Finally, we investigate a variant in which the demands have to be routed unsplittably.

The standard computational methods for computing the optimal value functions of Markov Decision Problems (MDP) require the exploration of the entire state space. This is practically infeasible for applications with huge numbers of states as they arise, e.\,g., from modeling the decisions in online optimization problems by MDPs. Exploiting column generation techniques, we propose and apply an LP-based method to determine an $\varepsilon$-approximation of the optimal value function at a given state by inspecting only states in a small neighborhood. In the context of online optimization problems, we use these methods in order to evaluate the quality of concrete policies with respect to given initial states. Moreover, the tools can also be used to obtain evidence of the impact of single decisions. This way, they can be utilized in the design of policies.

We consider a multicommodity routing problem, where demands are released \emph{online} and have to be routed in a network during specified time windows. The objective is to minimize a time and load dependent convex cost function of the aggregate arc flow. First, we study the fractional routing variant. We present two online algorithms, called Seq and Seq$^2$. Our first main result states that, for cost functions defined by polynomial price functions with nonnegative coefficients and maximum degree~$d$, the competitive ratio of Seq and Seq$^2$ is at most $(d+1)^{d+1}$, which is tight. We also present lower bounds of $(0.265\,(d+1))^{d+1}$ for any online algorithm. In the case of a network with two nodes and parallel arcs, we prove a lower bound of $(2-\frac{1}{2} \sqrt{3})$ on the competitive ratio for Seq and Seq$^2$, even for affine linear price functions. Furthermore, we study resource augmentation, where the online algorithm has to route less demand than the offline adversary. Second, we consider unsplittable routings. For this setting, we present two online algorithms, called U-Seq and U-Seq$^2$. We prove that for polynomial price functions with nonnegative coefficients and maximum degree~$d$, the competitive ratio of U-Seq and U-Seq$^2$ is bounded by $O{1.77^d\,d^{d+1}}$. We present lower bounds of $(0.5307\,(d+1))^{d+1}$ for any online algorithm and $(d+1)^{d+1}$ for our algorithms. Third, we consider a special case of our framework: online load balancing in the $\ell_p$-norm. For the fractional and unsplittable variant of this problem, we show that our online algorithms are $p$ and $O{p}$ competitive, respectively. Such results where previously known only for scheduling jobs on restricted (un)related parallel machines.

In this paper we study online multicommodity routing problems in networks, in which commodities have to be routed sequentially. The flow of each commodity can be split on several paths. Arcs are equipped with load dependent price functions defining routing costs, which have to be minimized. We discuss a greedy online algorithm that routes each commodity by minimizing a convex cost function that only depends on the demands previously routed. We present a competitive analysis of this algorithm showing that for affine linear price functions this algorithm is 4K2 (1+K)2 -competitive, where K is the number of commodities. For the single-source single-destination case, this algorithm is optimal. Without restrictions on the price functions and network, no algorithm is competitive. Finally, we investigate a variant in which the demands have to be routed unsplittably.

This article introduces constraint integer programming (CIP), which is a novel way to combine constraint programming (CP) and mixed integer programming (MIP) methodologies. CIP is a generalization of MIP that supports the notion of general constraints as in CP. This approach is supported by the CIP framework SCIP, which also integrates techniques for solving satisfiability problems. SCIP is available in source code and free for noncommercial use. We demonstrate the usefulness of CIP on three tasks. First, we apply the constraint integer programming approach to pure mixed integer programs. Computational experiments show that SCIP is almost competitive to current state-of-the-art commercial MIP solvers. Second, we demonstrate how to use CIP techniques to compute the number of optimal solutions of integer programs. Third, we employ the CIP framework to solve chip design verification problems, which involve some highly nonlinear constraint types that are very hard to handle by pure MIP solvers. The CIP approach is very effective here: it can apply the full sophisticated MIP machinery to the linear part of the problem, while dealing with the nonlinear constraints by employing constraint programming techniques.

Testing is the process of stimulating a system with inputs in order to reveal hidden parts of the system state. In the case of non-deterministic systems, the difficulty arises that an input pattern can generate several possible outcomes. Some of these outcomes allow to distinguish between different hypotheses about the system state, while others do~not. In this paper, we present a novel approach to find, for non-deterministic systems modeled as constraints over variables, tests that allow to distinguish among the hypotheses as good as possible. The idea is to assess the quality of a test by determining the ratio of distinguishing (good) and not distinguishing (bad) outcomes. This measure refines previous notions proposed in the literature on model-based testing and can be computed using model counting techniques. We propose and analyze a greedy-type algorithm to solve this test optimization problem, using existing model counters as a building block. We give preliminary experimental results of our method, and discuss possible improvements.