Experiments with graph convolutional networks for solving the vertex p-center problem

by   Elisabeth Gaar, et al.

In the last few years, graph convolutional networks (GCN) have become a popular research direction in the machine learning community to tackle NP-hard combinatorial optimization problems (COPs) defined on graphs. While the obtained results are usually still not competitive with problem-specific solution approaches from the operations research community, GCNs often lead to improvements compared to previous machine learning approaches for classical COPs such as the traveling salesperson problem (TSP). In this work we present a preliminary study on using GCNs for solving the vertex p-center problem (PCP), which is another classic COP on graphs. In particular, we investigate whether a successful model based on end-to-end training for the TSP can be adapted to a PCP, which is defined on a similar 2D Euclidean graph input as the usually used version of the TSP. However, the objective of the PCP has a min-max structure which could lead to many symmetric optimal, i.e., ground-truth solutions and other potential difficulties for learning. Our obtained preliminary results show that indeed a direct transfer of network architecture ideas does not seem to work too well. Thus we think that the PCP could be an interesting benchmark problem for new ideas and developments in the area of GCNs.


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