An Attractor-Repeller approach to floorplanning
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The floorplanning (or facility layout) problem consists in finding the optimal positions for a given set of modules of fixed area (but perhaps varying height and width) within a facility such that the distances between pairs of modules that have a positive connection cost are minimized. This is a hard combinatorial optimization problem; even the restricted version where the shapes of the modules are fixed and the optimization is taken over a fixed finite set of possible module locations is NP-hard. In this paper, we extend the concept of target distance introduced by Etawil and Vannelli and apply it to derive the AR (Attractor-Repeller) model which is designed to improve upon the NLT method of van Camp et al. This new model is designed to find a good initial point for the Stage-3 NLT solver and has the advantage that it can be solved very efficiently using a suitable optimization algorithm. Because the AR model is not a convex optimization problem, we also derive a convex version of the model and explore the generalized target distances that arise in this derivation. Computational results demonstrating the potential of our approach are presented.
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