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Solving mixed-integer nonlinear programs (MINLPs) to global optimality efficiently requires fast solvers for continuous sub-problems. These appear in, e.g., primal heuristics, convex relaxations, and bound tightening methods. Two of the best performing algorithms for these sub-problems are Sequential Quadratic Programming (SQP) and Interior Point Methods. In this paper we study the impact of different SQP and Interior Point implementations on important MINLP solver components that solve a sequence of similar NLPs. We use the constraint integer programming framework SCIP for our computational studies.

Optimization-based bound tightening (OBBT) is one of the most effective procedures to reduce variable domains of nonconvex mixed-integer nonlinear programs (MINLPs). At the same time it is one of the most expensive bound tightening procedures, since it solves auxiliary linear programs (LPs)—up to twice the number of variables many. The main goal of this paper is to discuss algorithmic techniques for an efficient implementation of OBBT.
Most state-of-the-art MINLP solvers apply some restricted version of OBBT and it seems to be common belief that OBBT is beneficial if only one is able to keep its computational cost under control. To this end, we introduce three techniques to increase the efficiency of OBBT: filtering strategies to reduce the number of solved LPs, ordering heuristics to exploit simplex warm starts, and the generation of Lagrangian variable bounds (LVBs). The propagation of LVBs during tree search is a fast approximation to OBBT without the need to solve auxiliary LPs.
We conduct extensive computational experiments on MINLPLib2. Our results indicate that OBBT is most beneficial on hard instances, for which we observe a speedup of 17% to 19% on average. Most importantly, more instances can be solved when using OBBT.

Approximation Algorithms for Facility Location with Capacitated and Length-Bounded Tree Connections
(2013)

We consider a generalization of the uncapacitated facility location problem that occurs in planning of optical access networks in telecommunications. Clients are connected to open facilities via depth-bounded trees. The total demand of clients served by a tree must not exceed a given tree capacity. We investigate a framework for combining facility location algorithms with a tree-based clustering approach and derive approximation algorithms for several variants of the problem, using techniques for approximating shallow-light Steiner trees via layer graphs, simultaneous approximation of shortest paths and minimum spanning trees, and greedy coverings.

The most important ingredient for solving mixed-integer nonlinear programs (MINLPs) to global epsilon-optimality with spatial branch and bound is a tight, computationally tractable relaxation. Due to both theoretical and practical considerations, relaxations of MINLPs are usually required to be convex. Nonetheless, current optimization solver can often successfully handle a moderate presence of nonconvexities, which opens the door for the use of potentially tighter nonconvex relaxations. In this work, we exploit this fact and make use of a nonconvex relaxation obtained via aggregation of constraints: a surrogate relaxation. These relaxations were actively studied for linear integer programs in the 70s and 80s, but they have been scarcely considered since. We revisit these relaxations in an MINLP setting and show the computational benefits and challenges they can have. Additionally, we study a generalization of such relaxation that allows for multiple aggregations simultaneously and present the first algorithm that is capable of computing the best set of aggregations. We propose a multitude of computational enhancements for improving its practical performance and evaluate the algorithm’s ability to generate strong dual bounds through extensive computational experiments.

One of the most fundamental ingredients in mixed-integer nonlinear programming solvers is the well- known McCormick relaxation for a product of two variables x and y over a box-constrained domain. The starting point of this paper is the fact that the convex hull of the graph of xy can be much tighter when computed over a strict, non-rectangular subset of the box. In order to exploit this in practice, we propose to compute valid linear inequalities for the projection of the feasible region onto the x-y-space by solving a sequence of linear programs akin to optimization-based bound tightening. These valid inequalities allow us to employ results from the literature to strengthen the classical McCormick relaxation. As a consequence, we obtain a stronger convexification procedure that exploits problem structure and can benefit from supplementary information obtained during the branch-and bound algorithm such as an objective cutoff. We complement this by a new bound tightening procedure that efficiently computes the best possible bounds for x, y, and xy over the available projections. Our computational evaluation using the academic solver SCIP exhibit that the proposed methods are applicable to a large portion of the public test library MINLPLib and help to improve performance significantly.

Price-and-verify: a new algorithm for recursive circle packing using Dantzig–Wolfe decomposition
(2020)

Packing rings into a minimum number of rectangles is an optimization problem which appears naturally in the logistics operations of the tube industry. It encompasses two major difficulties, namely the positioning of rings in rectangles and the recursive packing of rings into other rings. This problem is known as the Recursive Circle Packing Problem (RCPP). We present the first dedicated method for solving RCPP that provides strong dual bounds based on an exact Dantzig–Wolfe reformulation of a nonconvex mixed-integer nonlinear programming formulation. The key idea of this reformulation is to break symmetry on each recursion level by enumerating one-level packings, i.e., packings of circles into other circles, and by dynamically generating packings of circles into rectangles. We use column generation techniques to design a “price-and-verify” algorithm that solves this reformulation to global optimality. Extensive computational experiments on a large test set show that our method not only computes tight dual bounds, but often produces primal solutions better than those computed by heuristics from the literature.