A hybrid scatter search/electromagnetism meta-heuristic for project scheduling
In the last few decades, several effective algorithms for solving the resource-constrained project scheduling problem have been proposed. However, the challenging nature of this problem, summarised in its strongly NP-hard status, restricts the effectiveness of exact optimisation to relatively small instances. In this paper, we present a new meta-heuristic for this problem, able to provide near-optimal heuristic solutions. The procedure combines elements from scatter search, a generic population-based evolutionary search method, and a recently introduced heuristic method for the optimisation of unconstrained continuous functions based on an analogy with electromagnetism theory, hereafter referred to as the electromagnetism meta-heuristic. We present computational experiments on standard benchmark datasets, compare the results with current state-of-the-art heuristics, and show that the procedure is capable of producing consistently good results for challenging instances of the resource-constrained project scheduling problem. We also demonstrate that the algorithm outperforms state-of-the-art existing heuristics.
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