Memory & Cognition

, Volume 28, Issue 7, pp 1191–1204

The traveling salesman problem: A hierarchical model


DOI: 10.3758/BF03211820

Cite this article as:
Graham, S.M., Joshi, A. & Pizlo, Z. Memory & Cognition (2000) 28: 1191. doi:10.3758/BF03211820


Our review of prior literature on spatial information processing in perception, attention, and memory indicates that these cognitive functions involve similar mechanisms based on a hierarchical architecture. The present study extends the application of hierarchical models to the area of problem solving. First, we report results of an experiment in which human subjects were tested on a Euclidean traveling salesman problem (TSP) with 6 to 30 cities. The subject’s solutions were either optimal or near-optimal in length and were produced in a time that was, on average, a linear function of the number of cities. Next, the performance of the subjects is compared with that of five representative artificial intelligence and operations research algorithms, that produce approximate solutions for Euclidean problems. None of these algorithms was found to be an adequate psychological model. Finally, we present a new algorithm for solving the TSP, which is based on a hierarchical pyramid architecture. The performance of this new algorithm is quite similar to the performance of the subjects.

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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Computer Science and Electrical EngineeringUniversity of MarylandBaltimore
  2. 2.Department of Psychological SciencesPurdue UniversityWest Lafayette

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