, Volume 41, Issue 1, pp 1-28

A user's guide to tabu search

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Abstract

We describe the main features of tabu search, emphasizing a perspective for guiding a user to understand basic implementation principles for solving combinatorial or nonlinear problems. We also identify recent developments and extensions that have contributed to increasing the efficiency of the method. One of the useful aspects of tabu search is the ability to adapt a rudimentary prototype implementation to encompass additional model elements, such as new types of constraints and objective functions. Similarly, the method itself can be evolved to varying levels of sophistication. We provide several examples of discrete optimization problems to illustrate the strategic concerns of tabu search, and to show how they may be exploited in various contexts. Our presentation is motivated by the emergence of an extensive literature of computational results, which demonstrates that a well-tuned implementation makes it possible to obtain solutions of high quality for difficult problems, yielding outcomes in some settings that have not been matched by other known techniques.