Journal of Heuristics

, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 483–513 | Cite as

Metaheuristic approaches to the placement of suicide bomber detectors

  • Carlos CottaEmail author
  • José E. Gallardo


Suicide bombing is an infamous form of terrorism that is becoming increasingly prevalent in the current era of global terror warfare. We consider the case of targeted attacks of this kind, and the use of detectors distributed over the area under threat as a protective countermeasure. Such detectors are non-fully reliable, and must be strategically placed in order to maximize the chances of detecting the attack, hence minimizing the expected number of casualties. To this end, different metaheuristic approaches based on local search and on population-based search (such as a hill climber, different Greedy randomized adaptive search procedures, an evolutionary algorithm and several estimation of distribution algorithms) are considered and benchmarked against a powerful greedy heuristic from the literature. We conduct an extensive empirical evaluation on synthetic instances featuring very diverse properties. Most metaheuristics outperform the greedy algorithm, and a hill-climber is shown to be superior to remaining approaches. This hill-climber is subsequently subject to a sensitivity analysis to determine which problem features make it stand above the greedy approach, and is finally deployed on a number of problem instances built after realistic scenarios, corroborating the good performance of the heuristic.


Counter-terrorism Suicide bombing Optimal detector placement Greedy heuristics Metaheuristics 



We would like to thank Mr. Antonio Hernández Bimbela for his help during the initial stage of this project, and to the anonymous reviewers for useful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department Lenguajes y Ciencias de la ComputaciónUniversidad de MálagaMálagaSpain

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