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The Periodic Event Scheduling Problem (PESP) is the standard mathematical tool for optimizing periodic timetabling problems in public transport. A solution to PESP consists of three parts: a periodic timetable, a periodic tension, and integer periodic offset values. While the space of periodic tension has received much attention in the past, we explore geometric properties of the other two components, establishing novel connections between periodic timetabling and discrete geometry. Firstly, we study the space of feasible periodic timetables, and decompose it into polytropes, i.e., polytopes that are convex both classically and in the sense of tropical geometry. We then study this decomposition and use it to outline a new heuristic for PESP, based on the tropical neighbourhood of the polytropes. Secondly, we recognize that the space of fractional cycle offsets is in fact a zonotope. We relate its zonotopal tilings back to the hyperrectangle of fractional periodic tensions and to the tropical neighbourhood of the periodic timetable space. To conclude we also use this new understanding to give tight lower bounds on the minimum width of an integral cycle basis.

Periodic timetabling is a central aspect of both the long-term organization and the day-to-day operations of a public transportation system. The Periodic Event Scheduling Problem (PESP), the combinatorial optimization problem that forms the mathematical basis of periodic timetabling, is an extremely hard problem, for which optimal solutions are hardly ever found in practice. The most prominent solving strategies today are based on mixed-integer programming, and there is a concurrent PESP solver employing a wide range of heuristics [BorndĂ¶rfer et al., 2020]. We present tropical neighborhood search (tns), a novel PESP heuristic. The method is based on the relations between periodic timetabling and tropical geometry [Bortoletto et al., 2022]. We implement tns into the concurrent solver, and test it on instances of the benchmarking library PESPlib. The inclusion of tns turns out to be quite beneficial to the solver: tns is able to escape local optima for the modulo network simplex algorithm, and the overall share of improvement coming from tns is substantial compared to the other methods available in the solver. Finally, we provide better primal bounds for five PESPlib instances.

We propose a tropical interpretation of the solution space of the Periodic Event Scheduling Problem as a collection of polytropes, making use of the characterization of tropical cones as weighted digraph polyhedra. General and geometric properties of the polytropal collection are inspected and understood in connection with the combinatorial properties of the underlying periodic event scheduling instance. Novel algorithmic
ideas are presented and tested, making use of the aforementioned theoretical results to solve and optimize the problem.

Periodic timetabling is a central aspect of both the long-term organization and the day-to-day operations of a public transportation system. The Periodic Event Scheduling Problem (PESP), the combinatorial optimization problem that forms the mathematical basis of periodic timetabling, is an extremely hard problem, for which optimal solutions are hardly ever found in practice. The
most prominent solving strategies today are based on mixed-integer programming, and there is a concurrent PESP solver employing a wide range of heuristics [3]. We present tropical neighborhood search (tns), a novel PESP heuristic. The method is based on the relations between periodic timetabling and tropical geometry [4]. We implement tns into the concurrent solver, and test it on instances of the benchmarking library PESPlib. The inclusion of tns turns out to be quite beneficial to the solver: tns is able to escape local optima for the modulo network simplex algorithm, and the overall share of improvement coming from tns is substantial compared to the other methods
available in the solver. Finally, we provide better primal bounds for five PESPlib instances.

The Periodic Event Scheduling Problem (PESP) is a notoriously hard combinatorial optimization problem, essential for the design of periodic timetables in public transportation. The coefficients of the integer variables in the standard mixed integer linear programming formulations of PESP are the period time, e.g., 60 for a horizon of one hour with a resolution of one minute. In many application scenarios, lines with different frequencies have to be scheduled, leading to period times with many divisors. It then seems natural to consider derived instances, where the period time is a divisor of the original one, thereby smaller, and bounds are scaled and rounded accordingly. To this end, we identify two rounding schemes: wide and tight. We then discuss the approximation performance of both strategies, in theory and practice.

Periodic timetabling for highly utilized railway networks is a demanding challenge. We formulate an infrastructure-aware extension of the Periodic Event Scheduling Problem (PESP) by requiring that not only events, but also activities using the same infrastructure must be separated by a minimum headway time. This extended problem can be modeled as a mixed-integer program by adding constraints on the sum of periodic tensions along certain cycles, so that it shares some structural properties with standard PESP. We further refine this problem by fixing cyclic orders at each infrastructure element. Although the computational complexity remains unchanged, the mixed-integer programming model then becomes much smaller. Furthermore, we also discuss how to find a minimal subset of infrastructure elements whose cyclic order already prescribes the order for the remaining parts of the network, and how cyclic order information can be modeled in a mixed-integer programming context. In practice, we evaluate the impact of cyclic orders on a real-world instance on the S-Bahn Berlin network, which turns out to be computationally fruitful.