combinatorial optimization, Meta-RaPS, operations research, parameter setting


Recently meta-heuristics have become a popular solution methodology, in terms of both research and application, for solving combinatorial optimization problems. Meta-heuristic methods guide simple heuristics or priority rules designed to solve a particular problem. Meta-heuristics enhance these simple heuristics by using a higher level strategy. The advantage of using meta-heuristics over conventional optimization methods is meta-heuristics are able to find good (near optimal) solutions within a reasonable computation time. Investigating this line of research is justified because in most practical cases with medium to large scale problems, the use of meta-heuristics is necessary to be able to find a solution in a reasonable time. The specific meta-heuristic studied in this research is, Meta-RaPS; Meta-heuristic for Randomized Priority Search which is developed by DePuy and Whitehouse in 2001. Meta-RaPS is a generic, high level strategy used to modify greedy algorithms based on the insertion of a random element (Moraga, 2002). To date, Meta-RaPS had been applied to different types of combinatorial optimization problems and achieved comparable solution performance to other meta-heuristic techniques. The specific problem studied in this dissertation is parameter setting of Meta-RaPS. The topic of parameter setting for meta-heuristics has not been extensively studied in the literature. Although the parameter setting method devised in this dissertation is used primarily on Meta-RaPS, it is applicable to any meta-heuristic's parameter setting problem. This dissertation not only enhances the power of Meta-RaPS by parameter tuning but also it introduces a robust parameter selection technique with wide-spread utility for many meta-heuristics. Because the distribution of solution values generated by meta-heuristics for combinatorial optimization problems is not normal, the current parameter setting techniques which employ a parametric approach based on the assumption of normality may not be appropriate. The proposed method is Non-parametric Based Genetic Algorithms. Based on statistical tests, the Non-parametric Based Genetic Algorithms (NPGA) is able to enhance the solution quality of Meta-RaPS more than any other parameter setting procedures benchmarked in this research. NPGA sets the best parameter settings, of all the methods studied, for 38 of the 41 Early/Tardy Single Machine Scheduling with Common Due Date and Sequence-Dependent Setup Time (ETP) problems and 50 of the 54 0-1 Multidimensional Knapsack Problems (0-1 MKP). In addition to the parameter setting procedure discussed, this dissertation provides two Meta-RaPS combinatorial optimization problem applications, the 0-1 MKP, and the ETP. For the ETP problem, the Meta-RaPS application in this dissertation currently gives the best meta-heuristic solution performance so far in the literature for common ETP test sets. For the large ETP test set, Meta-RaPS provided better solution performance than Simulated Annealing (SA) for 55 of the 60 problems. For the small test set, in all four different small problem sets, the Meta-RaPS solution performance outperformed exiting algorithms in terms of average percent deviation from the optimal solution value. For the 0-1 MKP, the present Meta-RaPS application performs better than the earlier Meta-RaPS applications by other researchers on this problem. The Meta-RaPS 0-1 MKP application presented here has better solution quality than the existing Meta-RaPS application (Moraga, 2005) found in the literature. Meta-RaPS gives 0.75% average percent deviation, from the best known solutions, for the 270 0-1 MKP test problems.


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Graduation Date





Whitehouse, Gary


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Industrial Engineering and Management Systems

Degree Program

Industrial Engineering and Management Systems








Length of Campus-only Access


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Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)

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Engineering Commons