Set Branching in Constraint Optimization

Branch and bound is an effective technique for solving constraint optimization problems (COPís). However, its search space expands very rapidly as the domain sizes of the problem variables grow. In this paper, we present an algorithm that clusters the values of a variableís domain into sets. Branch and bound can then branch on these sets of values rather than on individual values, thereby reducing the branching factor of its search space. The aim of our clustering algorithm is to construct a collection of sets such that branching on these sets will still allow effective bounding. In conjunction with the reduced branching factor, the size of the explored search space is thus significantly reduced. We test our method and show empirically that it can yield significant performance gains over existing stateof- the-art techniques.

Matthew Kitching, Fahiem Bacchus