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Convergence of an annealing algorithm. (English) Zbl 0581.90061
The annealing algorithm is a stochastic optimization method which has attracted attention because of its success with certain difficult problems, including NP-hard combinatorial problems such as the travelling salesman, Steiner trees and others. There is an appealing physical analogy for its operation, but a more formal model seems desirable. In this paper we present such a model and prove that the algorithm converges with probability arbitrarily close to 1. We also show that there are cases where convergence takes exponentially long - that is, it is no better than a deterministic method. We study how the convergence rate is affected by the form of the problem. Finally we describe a version of the algorithm that terminates in polynomial time and allows a good deal of ’practical’ confidence in the solution.

MSC:
90C10 Integer programming
65K05 Numerical mathematical programming methods
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