Learn-n-Route: Learning implicit preferences for vehicle routing

by   Rocsildes Canoy, et al.

We investigate a learning decision support system for vehicle routing, where the routing engine learns implicit preferences that human planners have when manually creating route plans (or routings). The goal is to use these learned subjective preferences on top of the distance-based objective criterion in vehicle routing systems. This is an alternative to the practice of distinctively formulating a custom VRP for every company with its own routing requirements. Instead, we assume the presence of past vehicle routing solutions over similar sets of customers, and learn to make similar choices. The learning approach is based on the concept of learning a Markov model, which corresponds to a probabilistic transition matrix, rather than a deterministic distance matrix. This nevertheless allows us to use existing arc routing VRP software in creating the actual routings, and to optimize over both distances and preferences at the same time. For the learning, we explore different schemes to construct the probabilistic transition matrix that can co-evolve with changing preferences over time. Our results on a use-case with a small transportation company show that our method is able to generate results that are close to the manually created solutions, without needing to characterize all constraints and sub-objectives explicitly. Even in the case of changes in the customer sets, our method is able to find solutions that are closer to the actual routings than when using only distances, and hence, solutions that require fewer manual changes when transformed into practical routings.



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