Today, the project "Automated Algorithm Selection for Discrete Black-Box Optimization" with principal investigator Prof. Dr. Carola Doerr (Laboratoire d’Informatique de Paris 6 (LIP6), Sorbonne University, Paris, France), has been accepted for support from the Paris Region under the DIM-RFSI (Domaine d’Intérêt Majeur, Réseau Francilien en Sciences Informatiques) program. The partners involved in the project are Prof. Dr. Benjamin Doerr (LIX, École Polytechnique), Dr. Johann Dreo, (Researcher at Thales Research & Technology, Palaiseau), Dr. Pascal Kerschke (Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Münster, Germany), Dr. Olivier Teytaud (Facebook Artificial Intelligence Lab, Paris), and Prof. Dr. Thomas Weise (of our Institute of Applied Optimization at Hefei University, China). The acceptance of this project shows that the interest in optimization algorithm selection, configuration, and benchmarking is ever-growing, and the presence of two industrial partners indicates that this is not just the case in the scientific community, but that the field has gained also very practical importance.

In the real world, a variety of planning, packing, scheduling, routing, or management problems emerge in many different scenarios. There are highly-efficient specialized algorithms for certain problems, e.g., the TSP or Satisfiability tasks, which have been developed over decades of research. The vast majority of practically relevant problems come with unique characteristics and constraints, rendering the specialized algorithms unsuitable for them, while the time available to deliver an algorithmic solution usually does not permit decades of research. Here, black-box algorithms (e.g., metaheuristics) are in order: General and flexible methods than treat the optimization task as black-box, i.e., require very little effort when adapting them to a virtually arbitrary task. However, there are many such metaheuristics and the question which one to use for the task at hand arises. The goal of this project is developing a suitable framework for training automated algorithm selectors and configurators for black-box optimization heuristics for discrete problems defined over a Boolean search space.

In this project, we will have the chance to collaborate more closely with many of our friends. The experiments will be done using the IOHprofiler, an open source optimization algorithm benchmarking tool. IOHprofiler is jointly developed by the teams of Prof. Dr. Carola Doerr, Thomas Bäck (Leiden University, The Netherlands) and Ofer Shir (Migal research institute, Israel), who, like most of the project team members, are already important members of the BB-DOB Workshop series. We are happy that our W-Model has been selected as one of the ingredients of the project, serving as a basic benchmark to investigate and test different fitness landscape measures to drive algorithm selection and configuration. The W-Model allows for defining a wide variety of different benchmark problem instances with different characteristics (scale, ruggedness, epistasis, neutrality, etc.) over the Boolean domain. As one of the modules of the project, we will evaluate for which problems a training based on the W-model provides accurate predictions and use this knowledge to extend the model together with Dr. Olivier Teytaud, the main developer of Facebook's nevergrad benchmarking platform.

Today, the program of the Black Box Discrete Optimization Benchmarking (BB-DOB) Workshop 2019 has been released. This third installment of the BB-DOB Workshop series (after BB-DOB@GECCO 2018 and BB-DOB@PPSN 2018) takes place at the Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference (GECCO'19) in Prague, Czech Republic, whose program can be found here. The long term aim of our workshop series is to produce, for the domain of discrete optimization: a well-motivated benchmark function testbed, an experimental set-up and methods for the generation of data output for post-processing and approaches for the proper presentation of the results in graphs and tables. The aims of this GECCO 2019 BB-DOB workshop are to finalize the benchmarking testbed for discrete optimization and to promote a discussion of which performance measures should be used. Our workshop has six accepted submissions and one exciting panel discussion. It will span over two sessions and take place on sunday, July 14, 08:30-12:30 in room Club A. The schedule will leave room for discussions and socializing. We are looking forward to welcome you in July. Don't miss out on the paper presentations and the panel discussion!

We are happy to announce that two of our team members, Dr. Zhize Wu and Dr. Zijun Wu, were awarded Youth Projects from the Provincial Natural Science Foundation of Anhui [安徽省自然科学基金]. The projects from this competitive sources will allow them to conduct research on the runtime theory of heuristics and on action fusion for large-scale videos during the next two years, respectively.

  • Youth Project of the Provincial Natural Science Foundation of Anhui [安徽省自然科学基金]. Stochastic and Approximation Runtime Theory of Heuristics [启发式算法的随机与近似运行时间分析], 2019 to 2021, Principal Investigator: Dr. Zijun Wu
  • Youth Project of the Provincial Natural Science Foundation of Anhui [安徽省自然科学基金]. Human Action Fusion Recognition Research for Large-scale Multimodal Video [面向大规模多模态视频的人体行为融合识别研究], 2019 to 2021, Principal Investigator: Dr. Zhize Wu

Additionally to his grant from the Provincial Natural Science Foundation of Anhui, Dr. Zijun Wu also received a grant for researching Traffic Control from the Perspective of Behavoiral Guidance from Science Foundation of the Anhui Education Department.

Great Work. Congratulations!

Portrait of Dr.  Rolf H. Möhring.

The Institute of Applied Optimization welcomes our new senior member Prof. Dr. Rolf H. Möhring [默里·罗尔夫]. Prof. Möhring is an outstanding and highly experienced researcher from the field of combinatorial optimization and graph algorithms who also holds positions as professor emeritus at the Fachgebiet Kombinatorische Optimierung und Graphenalgorithmen (COGA) of the Institut für Mathematik at the Technische Universität Berlin (TUB) in Berlin, Germany and as member of the Board of Directors of the Beijing Institute for Scientific and Engineering Computing (BISEC) [北京科学与工程计算研究院] of the Beijing University of Technology (BJUT) [北京工业大学] in Beijing [北京], China. He received his Diplom (equivalent to MSc), Dr. rer. nat., and Habilitation in Mathematics at the RWTH Aachen in 1973, 1975, and 1982, respectively. Before his current positions, he was assistant and associate professor at the University of Hildesheim and then at the University of Bonn, respectively.

Professor Möhring has received the Harris German-Dartmouth Distinguished Visiting Professorship of the Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, USA, the Wissenschaftspreis der Gesellschaft für Operations Research (GOR, 2005), the Gold Medal of the Association of European Operational Research Societies (EURO, 2010), and the Honorary Professor title of the Beijing University of Technology (BJUT) in 2014.

As member of the Editorial Board, he contributes to several journals, namely Discrete Applied Mathematics, the Journal of Scheduling, Management Science, Mathematical Methods of Operations Research (MMOR), Operations Research, ORDER – A Journal on Ordered Sets and its Applications, and the SIAM Journal on Discrete Mathematics. He organized and co-organized events such as the International Conference on Operations Research (OR'94) and the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM'98), as well as of several workshops and Dagstuhl Seminars. He also was the President of the Gesellschaft für Mathematik, Ökonomie und Operations Research (GMÖOR, 1994–1996), the Chair of the Executive Committee (1992–1995) and the President (2004–2007) of the Mathematical Programming Society (now Mathematical Optimization Society, MOS), and a member of the DFG Research Center Matheon "Mathematics for Key Technologies," where he was in charge of the Application Area "Logistics, Traffic, and Telecommunication Networks".

Prof. Möhring's research interests include graph and network algorithms, combinatorial optimization, scheduling, operations research, and their industrial applications.

After two very inspiring and productive visits in June and November 2018, we are very happy that Prof. Möhring has joined our team. We are looking forward to learn from his great expertise and to learn from his guidance.

We happily bid our welcome to Mr. Raphaël Cosson, who just started his Master's research project "Algorithm Selection for Discrete Black-Box Optimization Problems" under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Carola Doerr and co-supervision of Prof. Dr. Thomas Weise. Mr. Cosson will conduct his research at the Laboratoire d'informatique de Paris 6 (LIP6) of the Sorbonne University in Paris, France during Summer 2019. His work is at the intersection of algorithm configuration, algorithm benchmarking, and the theory of optimization. As basis for his research, he will use and extend the Iterative Optimization Heuristics Profiler (IOHprofiler), an awesome tool for benchmarking and evaluating optimization algorithms, in conjunction with the tunable benchmark model developed at our group. We are looking forward to an interesting and productive collaboration.

  • Carola Doerr, Hao Wang, Furong Ye, Sander van Rijn, and Thomas Bäck. IOHprofiler: A Benchmarking and Profiling Tool for Iterative Optimization Heuristics. October 2018. arXiv e-prints:1810.05281.
    pdf / IOHprofiler / sources
  • Thomas Weise and Zijun Wu. Difficult Features of Combinatorial Optimization Problems and the Tunable W-Model Benchmark Problem for Simulating them. In Companion Material Proceedings of the Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference (GECCO 2018), July 15-19 2018, Kyoto, Japan, pages 1769-1776, ISBN: 978-1-4503-5764-7. ACM.
    doi:10.1145/3205651.3208240 / pdf / slides / source codes
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