Empirical Analysis of Algorithms for Block-Angular Linear Programs
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This thesis aims to study the theoretical complexity and empirical performance of decomposition algorithms. We focus on linear programs with a block-angular structure. Decomposition algorithms used to be the only way to solve large-scale special structured problems, in terms of memory limit and CPU time. However, with the advances in computer technology over the past few decades, many large-scale problems can now be solved simply by using some general purpose LP software, without exploiting the problems' inner structures. A question arises naturally, should we solve a structured problem with decomposition, or directly solve it as a whole? We try to understand how a problem's characteristics influence its computational performance, and compare the relative efficiency of algorithms with and without decomposition. Two comparisons are conducted in our research: first, the Dantzig-Wolfe decomposition method (DW) versus the simplex method (simplex); second, the analytic center cutting plane method (ACCPM) versus the interior point method (IPM). These comparisons fall into the two main solution approaches in linear programming: simplex-based algorithms and IPM-based algorithms. Motivated by our observations of ACCPM and DW decomposition, we devise a hybrid algorithm combining ACCPM and DW, which are the counterparts of IPM and simplex in the decomposition framework, to take the advantages of both: the quick convergence rate of IPM-based methods, as well as the accuracy of simplex-based algorithms. A large set of 316 instances is incorporated in our experiments, so that different dimensioned problems with primal or dual block-angular structures are covered to test our conclusions.