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Spatial interaction model optimisation on parallel computers. Concurrency Practice and Expe

To appear in "Concurrency: Practice and Experience", 1994.

Spatial Interaction Model Optimisation on Parallel Computers
Felicity George, Nicholas Radcliffe, Mark Smith
Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre, University of Edinburgh, Kings Buildings, May?eld Rd., Edinburgh EH9 3JZ fawg@epcc.ed.ac.uk phone: 031-650-5962, fax: 031-650-6555

Mark Birkin, Martin Clarke
GMAP Ltd, GMAP House, Cromer Terrace, Leeds, LS2 9JU

1

In a collaborative project between GMAP Ltd. and EPCC, an existing heuristic optimisation scheme for strategic resource planning was parallelised to run on the data parallel Connection Machine CM-200. The parallel software was found to run over 2700 times faster than the original workstation software. This has allowed the exploration of complex business planning strategies at a national, rather than regional, level for the ?rst time. The availability of a very fast evaluation program for planning solutions also enabled an investigation of the use of genetic algorithms in place of GMAP’s existing heuristic optimisation scheme. The results of this study show that genetic algorithms can provide better quality solutions in terms of both predicted pro?t from the solution, and spatial diversity to provide a range of possible solutions. This paper discusses both the parallelisation of the original optimisation scheme and the use of genetic algorithms in place of this method.

1 INTRODUCTION
Geographical Modelling and Planning (GMAP) Ltd have developed a computer model that simulates the pattern and volume of business that can be expected from a geographical network of sales or service outlets. When coupled with some optimisation scheme, this software can identify business resource planning solutions that provide maximum sales, pro?t or service results. Ford uses GMAP software — an optimisation scheme called the Idealised Representation Plan (IRP)[10] — to help to decide where to locate its car dealerships. The underlying spatial interaction model simulates car distribution and sales on the basis of information about the location of dealers and supply points, together with other geographic, demographic and statistical data. This allows prediction of the sales and ?ow patterns that result from a given con?guration of dealerships. Running this software on a Sun SPARCstation 1 it would take around three months of computer time to ?nd a network of 1000 Ford dealers covering the entire UK; thus the serial code has only ever been used to model one region of Britain at a time. In a collaborative project between GMAP Ltd and Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre, the GMAP IRP code has been parallelised for the CM-200. In addition, GA techniques have been studied as a replacement for the existing heuristic optimisation scheme. The major objectives of this work were: 2

delivery network. To achieve a reduction in run-time by at least two orders of magnitude, via this parallel solution, in order to allow Ford to advance their strategic planning from a regional to a national level, as well as allowing them to increasing the range and complexity of problems that can be tackled. To devise and implement an optimisation scheme based upon genetic algorithms — a stochastic search technique inspired by natural evolution — that will allow the computation of near-optimal network con?gurations and will out-perform those produced using existing heuristic techniques. To assess the potential advantage of parallel computing in the production of powerful, general business planning models and tools.

In the eighteen months of this work, EPCC and GMAP have achieved the following:

We have produced a data-parallel version of the GMAP code that runs 2700 times faster than the original workstation software. We have optimisation results indicating that using genetic algorithms can provide qualitatively better ?nal solutions than standard heuristic techniques. We have provided a tool for exploring completely new spatial problems, in terms of scale, accuracy and speed of solution, thereby improving the productivity and performance of both GMAP and their customers.

The next three sections of this paper present background information on the IRP, the spatial interaction model used by the IRP, and the Connection Machine, for which the code was parallelised. Section 5 discusses the parallel implementation of the SIM, and the performance results achieved from this implementation. The following section looks at using genetic algorithms as an alternative to the IRP optimisation algorithm, and results achieved using genetic algorithms are presented in section 7.

2

THE SPATIAL INTERACTION MODEL

Spatial interaction models are used to simulate interactions between a set of demands in a given area and the set of facilities, products or services that meet this demand [10], [1]. Principal factors in?uencing the degree of 3

attractiveness of the facility and the competition from other facilities in the area. The UK is divided into postal areas, which are in turn divided into postal districts. Postal districts are groupings of postal sectors. For example, as shown in ?gure 1, the EPCC postal code “EH9 3JZ” identi?es the third postal sector within the ninth postal district, in the postal area “EH” (Edinburgh).

Dealer j

Sales Tij
Boundary of district I e.g. EH9

Postal Sector i, e.g. EH9 3

Figure 1: An Example of the Structure of Postal Districts and Sectors. The task of this spatial interaction model is to predict for each dealer j the rate of sales Tij from each postal sector

i. This is computed as follows: OI tij ; where i 2 I A XIX t ij

Tij AI tij
where

= = =

(1) (2) (3)

i2I j 2J Rj Wm exp(? i cij )

i j

indexes postal sectors, indexes dealers, indexes manufacturers, indexes postal districts,

m I

J is the set of car dealers that interact with the postal sector i for which the summation is currently being evaluated.
4

the dealer, and location.

Wm OI

is the average number of sales for a dealer of manufacturer is the number of cars registered in postal district I .

m.

i is the distance deterrence parameter. This factor shows how far people are prepared to travel to purchase cars.

cij tij Tij AI

is the travel time from postal sector i to dealer j . is the propensity of residents in postal sector i, to purchase a new car at dealer j . is the number of cars purchased by residents in postal sector i from dealer j . The task of the SIM is to compute the sales Tij . is a balancing factor which ensures that all demand is allocated somewhere within the system.

The version of the model detailed in equations 1 to 3 above only considers one competitive sector (e.g. sports cars, family cars) of the car market at a time, and relies upon the assumption that each car dealership only sells cars made by one manufacturer (which is true within the UK). The following pseudocode solves the above equations sequentially : For all sectors i For each dealer j which interacts with sector i

tij := Rj Wm exp(? i cij )
For all districts, I

AI := 0
For each sector i in district I For each dealer j which interacts with sector i

AI := AI + tij
For each sector i in district I For each dealer j which interacts with sector i

Tij := OI tij =AI

5

from that dealer to the sector are estimated. Then all the sales for each postal district are summed, so that each individual sales ?gure can be taken as a percentage of the total sales within the district. These predicted sales are then balanced by looking at the actual demand in each postal district and weighting the predicted sales according to the percentage of sales they represent within the postal district.

3 THE IDEALISED REPRESENTATION PLAN
The Idealised Representation Plan (IRP) is the heuristic optimisation procedure developed by GMAP to ?nd a set of locations for Ford dealerships within a given area. Given an area of Britain and a set of constraints concerning the size, number and locality of dealerships it may consider, the IRP proposes a network of Ford dealerships to place in that area. Some constraints are "hard", that is they must be adhered to, others are "soft". The soft constraints within the model are prioritised. For example, the size of dealerships being opened is not considered until the minimum number of dealers speci?ed is reached. The objective of the IRP is to ?nd a network which maximises sales for a given area. The network it ?nds, however, will probably not be that with maximal sales, as the space of possible networks is very large for any realistic problem size, and little search of this space is attempted; the algorithm simply constructs one good solution. The constraints used by the IRP are as follows: max deal a maximum number of dealers in the network, min deal a minimum number of dealers in the network, min size a minimum size of dealer (where size is number of sales), min net a minimum drive time between dealerships, Initially, the IRP creates a notional Ford dealership (which is 10% as attractive as a real Ford dealership) in every postal sector within the region being modelled. Competitor dealerships remain open with full attractiveness. Then a network of dealerships is constructed as follows: While fewer than min deal dealers are open Run the SIM to calculate the predicted sales for all notional dealers Open the notional dealer with the highest sales. 6

While the network is changing and sales are improving For each of the min deal dealers picked, in random order Shut the dealership Run the SIM Open the best notional dealer Calculate sales for new network

While sales are improving, less than max deal dealers have been opened, and the sales for the new dealer is over the min size Run the SIM Open the best notional dealer

It can therefore be seen that the IRP makes a large number of calls to the spatial interaction model in order to build a complete solution. The aim of this project was initially to parallelise the SIM to speed up the IRP’s execution time. In fact the work was later extended to cover parallelisation of the entire IRP algorithm.

4

DATA PARALLEL PROGRAMMING ON THE CM-200

Data parallel programming is a parallel programming paradigm in which data is divided between some number of processors which then perform the same operations on their portions of the data. The Connection Machine CM-200 is a data parallel computing system developed and manufactured by Thinking Machines Corporation. A data set is mapped onto a large number of simple processors, giving a nearly equal number of elements from the set to each processor. All of these processors then execute the same instructions simultaneously, each manipulating the data elements in its own local memory. Alternatively, the programmer may specify a subset of elements to be manipulated, in which case the behaviour is as before except that those data elements not selected are not altered for the duration of this instruction. A CM-200 may contain 8K, 16K, 32K, or 64K parallel processing elements (PEs). The CM-200 is controlled by one or two serial front-end computers, which operate asynchronously with the CM-200. Instructions are only passed to the CM-200 when parallel operations on data in its memory are to be carried out. Communication between the front-end and the CM-200 is via a high speed data bus. 7

parallel structures contain more data elements than the system has processors (the normal situation), the system operates in "virtual processor" mode. Each processor is effectively divided into several smaller processors. As the program issues parallel instructions, microcode causes it to be executed many times, once for each virtual processor per physical processor. Therefore the same program can be run on different sizes of CM-200 without any changes, subject to memory availability, and as the number of processing elements increases, the program runs faster. The CM-200 provides the hardware to carry out parallel operations on large numbers of data items, typically arrays of more than one dimension. There are several programming languages that can be used to exploit this hardware; for this project we used C*, which is a superset of ANSI C with parallel language extensions. Details of this language can be found in [2]. The CM-200 based at Edinburgh has 16K bit-serial processors and 512 ?oating-point accelerators, giving a peak performance rating of 8 GFlops. Each PE has 256K of local memory; this provides a total of 0.5 Gbytes of memory over the entire machine. Additionally, there is a high performance data storage device — the Data Vault. This can store up to 10 Gbytes of data and has a peak transfer rate from the CM200 of 25 MBytes per second. Data can be visualised on a colour monitor, using a framebuffer in the CM, or remotely on a workstation running X Windows.

5 PARALLELISING THE IRP

5.1 Parallel Data Structures
The ?rst stage in developing a parallel version of the spatial interaction model within the IRP for the CM-200 was to design an ef?cient data distribution mechanism. The principal data structure within the IRP contains data about the postal districts, postal sectors and the dealers with which each sector interacts. This data is arranged hierarchically, each district containing a number of postal sectors, and each postal sector containing a number of dealerships with which it interacts. Each postal sector may interact with up to 100 dealers, these being the closest dealers to the sector. Studies have shown that interactions between sectors and dealers that are further away are insigni?cant enough not to be worth the extra computational cost of modelling. To give an idea of the size of this data structure, within the UK there are 2625 postal districts and 8500 postal sectors. There are three levels at which the data could be distributed. Distribution at the postal district level was rejected 8

worst case ten. Thus distributing one postal district to each virtual processor in the CM would result in poor load balancing, as some districts would have considerably more work to do than others. Also, the CM-200 at EPCC has 16K (16384) processing elements, so a distributed array of 2625 elements would be too small for ef?cient parallelisation. The option of distributing the dealers with which postal sectors interact over virtual processors was seriously considered, as this would lead to a well load balanced solution, with a high degree of parallelism; however, the amount of data to be stored for each dealer would be prohibitively high. Therefore, the decision was made to parallelise the data at the postal sector level, each virtual processor within the Connection Machine manipulating one postal sector and the dealers with which it interacts. Since nearly all of the postal sectors interact with the maximum number of dealers possible, the load balance is good. Figure 2 shows the parallel and serial data structures.

Serial Data Structures
Sector 1 Sector 2 . . Sector 1 Sector 2 . . Dealer 3 Dealer 5 Dealer 2

District 1 District 2 District 3 . . .

Dealer 4 Dealer 1 Dealer 2

Postal Areas

Parallel Data Structures
Dealer 3 Dealer 5 Dealer 2 Dealer 4 Dealer 1 Dealer 2

Sector 1 Sector 2 Sector 3
1 2 3 4

5

Sector 4 Sector 5
Parallel Sector Array
Processing Elements

Figure 2: Serial and Parallel Sector Data Structures.

To create a parallel array of postal sectors, a CM array called a shape is declared, of which each element is a postal 9

power of two, so this array has size 16384, this being the smallest power of two greater than 8500 — the number of postal sectors in the UK. Another parallel array was used to hold information on the grouping of postal sectors into districts. This array is the same length as the parallel postal sector array. The postal sectors are arranged in their array in groups of sectors belonging to the same postal district. The postal district array then holds the value 1 where the corresponding postal sector is the ?rst of a new district, and a 0 otherwise. Finally a parallel array, par sales, is used to collect the sums of sales for each dealer, where each element in the array corresponds to one dealership. When the parallel sector data is set up, each dealer is given an index into the
par sales array, then as data for dealers interacting with postal sectors is stored, the appropriate index is stored

with every dealer each postal sector interacts with. Although this array holds dealerships and not postal sectors, it can still adopt the postal sector shape, as there are always few enough dealerships in any given area to ?t into this shape.

5.2 The Parallel SIM
To simplify the explanation of the parallel SIM, equation 2 from section 3 is rewritten as:

ai AI
where the indices are as detailed in section 2.

= =

Xt ; ij j 2J Xa ;
i2I i

(4) (5)

The spatial interaction model is then parallelised as follows: ?rstly, the tij and ai values are simultaneously calculated over all postal sectors for the ?rst dealer each sector interacts with, then the second, and so on: For every sector i in parallel

ai := 0
For each interacting dealer j

tij := Rj W m exp(? i cij ) ai := ai + tij
10

in a parallel array. Basically, the postal sectors are grouped into postal districts, then each district’s ai values are summed: For all districts, I

AI := i2I ai

P

Evaluation of the Tij ’s is straightforward: For every sector i in parallel For each interacting dealer j

Tij := OI tij =AI

Once the spatial interaction model has been run, the sales for each dealer are still distributed amongst the postal sectors in the CM. These sales must be gathered, and the best notional dealership found. These sales are collected in par sales, and are summed for each notional dealer: For every sector i in parallel For each interacting dealer j Where j is a notional dealership [jind]par sales := [jind ]par sales + Tij

where jind is the index into the par sales array for dealer j . Finally, the best notional dealer must be selected and opened. To ?nd the dealer with the maximum sales, a scan is used on the par sales array. The dealer found by this scan is then established as an active dealership using serial code which is not signi?cantly different from the original implementation.

5.3

Parallel Input and Output

In the serial code, data is input from NetISAM ?les (NetISAM is a ?le management system produced by SUN microsystems). The parallel implementation loads the data it requires for the parallel array of postal sectors from 11

be run on a new region, a preprocessing program is executed to write sector data to the Data Vault. The serial output phase wrote postal sector and dealer data to NetISAM ?les. However, access to NetISAM ?les is fairly slow, so the parallel output phase was modi?ed to write out data to plain ASCII ?les instead, from which it could be loaded into NetISAM ?les using a serial machine other than the CM front end.

5.4 Performance Results
Tables 5.4 and 5.4 give information on the performance of the serial and the parallel IRP codes. The serial implementation was run on a Sun SPARCstation 1, the parallel version on the full 16K processor CM-200. In table 5.4, the ?gures are estimated for the serial code, as the code would have taken an unreasonably long time to run in reality. Table 1: IRP ?nding 100 dealers for the national data set
Serial Implelemntation Input IRP Output 4 hours 150 hours 102 mins Parallel Implementation 68 seconds 190 seconds 2 mins Speedup 240 2842 51

Table 2: IRP ?nding 1000 dealers for the national data set
Serial Implementation Input IRP Output 4 hours 2520 hours (approx. 3 months) 2 hours Parallel Implementation 68 seconds 56 minutes 12 minutes Speedup 210 2700 10

It can be seen from table 5.4 that using the serial code with the UK data set, choosing a realistically large network of Ford dealerships takes literally months. Having achieved a speedup of three orders of magnitude with the parallel code, such simulations can now be performed in a couple of hours. It is possible to use the serial code to simulate regions of the UK separately, bringing the results for these regions together to ?nd a network of dealerships for the UK. This takes considerably less time than simulating the entire UK; around 20 to 30 hours. This, however, can lead to inconsistencies at the regional boundaries; thus the possibility of simulating the whole of Britain at one time has a signi?cant advantage in terms of the consistency of results. 12

Another advantage of providing a fast implementation of the SIM is that the use of more compute-intensive techniques to tackle the dealer network optimisation problem can be investigated. This section discusses the application of Genetic Algorithms (GAs) to this problem.

6.1

Introduction to Genetic Algorithms

Genetic algorithms are an optimisation technique modelled on the process of natural evolution. They were ?rst developed by John Holland in 1975 [4]. His idea was to maintain a pool of solutions to a given problem and to allocate to each solution a ?tness which measured how good it was. Possible solutions were stored as chromosomes — strings of numbers, each having some particular meaning in the problem — and "mated" to produce new solutions, with ?tter (better) solutions being selected for mating more often than less ?t ones. Since only some ?xed number of chromosomes were stored, those which were less ?t tended to “die off”. The representation of solutions to the dealer network optimisation problem as chromosomes is discussed in section 6.2 New chromosomes are formed from existing ones in two different ways, the more important of which is crossing over. Crossing over involves taking two parent chromosomes, and for each value (or gene) in the new chromosome, using some function to determine which parent that gene should be inherited from. Traditional crossover operators never change the values of genes; they simply arrange existing gene values in different ways. They are analagous to sexual reproduction in animals, from which they draws direct inspiration. However, for more complex problems such as that tackled here, it is often necessary to use more sophisticated crossover operators that may change gene values. The second way of producing a new chromosome is by changing one or more of the genes’ values in an existing chromosome. This is called mutation. It is necessary to have mutation because, as less ?t members of the population are killed off, all the instances of some value of a gene may disappear. Crossover alone would only be able to explore an ever-decreasing part of the search space; mutation is needed to maintain diversity and thus allow the search to reach new parts of the space. Thus, we think of crossover as being the driving force underpinning the genetic algorithm and of mutation as being responsible for keeping the gene pool from which it draws well stocked. A genetic algorithm generally operates as follows: Choose some ?xed number of chromosomes, say 100, to form an initial population. 13

Repeatedly: – pick a pair of parent solutions from the population for mating, biasing the selection towards ?tter members but ensuring that every member has some chance of participating in mating. – produce a child from the chosen parents using crossover – with small probability, mutate genes in the new chromosome – measure the ?tness of the child – randomly choose a member of the population to die, and replace that solution with the child. The production of as many children as were in the initial population, in this case 100, is described as a generation of updates. Typically a GA may run for tens or even hundreds of generations to ?nd a good solution. In the case of the dealer network optimisation problem, the ?tness of chromosomes is measured using the SIM. Thus the SIM will be called many times as the GA runs. Using the serial implementation of the SIM, GA techniques would be prohibitively slow for realistic problem sizes. Using the parallel SIM they are fast enough to be practicable. Although GAs have the disadvantage of being slower than the new parallel IRP, they can provide qualitatively better results. It is easy to see that even a small percentage increase in sales for Ford may be worth the expenditure of much computer time.

6.2 Data Representation
The dealer network optimisation problem looks for networks of dealerships throughout a given geographical area, placing at most one dealership in each postal sector. In fact, since coverage of the area is considered to be important in addition to ?nding a network of dealerships which attract high sales, over-clustering of dealerships is prevented to some extent by allowing only one dealership within each postal district. Dealerships must still be associated with a particular postal sector within a district, in order to evaluate their predicted sales using the SIM. For the GA solution of our problem, a chromosome is de?ned in which every gene is a postal district. Within each postal district, the sectors are numbered
1

::n, where n is the number of sectors in the district. For postal districts

with no open dealership in them, the gene is given the value zero; districts with an open dealership in some postal sector are given a number of that postal sector. Therefore, if, for instance, a network of 15 dealerships within 40 14

rest have some value greater than zero. Figure 3 shows the mapping of an area containing ?ve postal districts, with three open dealerships, onto a chromosome.
Chromosome Representation

5

0

3

0

2

Dealerships marked by

District 1
sector 1

District 2 District 3
sector 1 sector 2 sector 5 sector 1

sector 2 sector 3 sector 4 sector 3 sector 2

District 4
sector 3

District 5
sector 1 sector 1

sector 2

sector 3

sector 2 sector 3 sector 4 sector 4

Figure 3: Mapping an area containing ?ve postal districts and three open dealerships onto a chromosome.

6.3

GA Operators

A genetic algorithm is constructed using a series of operators to perform functions such as crossing over two parent chromosomes and evaluating the ?tness of a chromosome. For this problem, six classes of operator are de?ned:

Initialisation These operators create a new chromosome, and are used to generate the initial population. The initialisation operators for this problem are random-network (section 6.3.1) and IRP-network (section 6.3.2). Selection Chooses two parents to be combined; an operator called binary-tournament (section 6.3.3) is used. Crossover Crossover combines two parent chromosomes to create a child. spatial-crossover (section 6.3.4) is the crossover operator used in this case. 15

changes to the chromosomes created. Evaluation The SIM is used as the evaluation operator, measuring the ?tness of chromosomes in terms of the predicted sales from the represented network. Replacement The member of the current population to be replaced by the child is chosen, using the operator
binary-rm (section 6.3.7).

Some of the operators used for this problem use knowledge of the speci?c problem area to help create better solutions, either taking advantage of techniques used by the IRP (i.e. hybridisation [5]), or exploiting aspects of the problem such as its spatial nature. Other operators use more general techniques, such as binary tournament selection and replacement operators, a random mutation operator, local-mutate, and a random initialisation operator, random-network. The evaluation operator used is the spatial interaction model, which is run on a CM-200, whilst the rest of the GA is run on the CM-200’s front end. The GA code was designed to make use of a tool called the Reproductive Plan Language (RPL) [9], which simpli?es writing and experimenting with GA codes. The RPL software supports arbitrary (user-de?ned) genome representations, and also allows the user to add functionality to the language by means of C functions, for both representation dependent and independent operations. Examples of operators provided by RPL are binary-tournament, binary-rm, and select-best.

6.3.1

Random-network

This operator creates a random chromosome (i.e. network of dealerships), to seed the initial GA population. For each network, it randomly selects postal districts, then sectors within districts, in which to open dealerships until a given target number of dealerships have been opened.

6.3.2

IRP-network

As an alternative to creating a population of random chromosomes, this operator was developed to allow the GA to start with a population made up from variations to networks of dealers selected by the IRP, thus providing controlled innoculation [6] of the initial population. This operator has one input parameter, i, which indicates the size of the IRP network from which the new network is to be generated, and must be greater than or equal to the size of network to be generated. A network of size i, selected by the IRP algorithm as the best dealerships in the area, is 16

sought, then chromosomes created using this operator will be identical to the IRP solution of this size. Otherwise, they will contain a selection of dealerships which the IRP has identi?ed as pro?table. As this operator creates one new chromosome only, chromosomes within an initial population can be created from a variety of IRP network sizes, or some may be created randomly, as desired. It is worth noting that choosing an IRP network from which to select dealerships which is larger than the network sought not only provides some diversity between chromosomes, but can also improve the quality of the networks found. The IRP selects dealerships which are pro?table, but not necessarily ones which combine together optimally. Thus, by taking a larger set of dealerships chosen by the IRP and recombining them in various ways, better solutions than the IRP solution for the given network size may be found.

6.3.3

Binary-tournament

This routine is used to select parent chromosomes: to select one parent, two chromosomes are randomly chosen from the population, and the ?ttest of these is chosen with a probability provided by the user [7].

6.3.4

Spatial-crossover

This crossover operator considers the spatial relationship between dealerships, using geographical knowledge to build an operator speci?c to the problem. It has two separate functions, and will choose a method for any given crossover event according to a probability, p, provided by the user. In both cases, a number of localised geographical areas within the whole problem region are chosen (e.g. within the UK these might be an area around London, and one covering Newcastle). The number and size of the areas are chosen according to the operator parameters

num and range. If the ?rst operator is being used, these areas are taken from one parent, and the remainder of the
solution from the other parent. For the second operator, genes within the selected areas are chosen randomly from either parent, while those outside come from one parent only, providing a localised crossover operator. Thus the ?rst operator keeps local solutions constant but exchanges them between solutions, whilst the second keeps most of the solution constant and mixes only a localised area. In more detail, taking two parent chromosomes, A and B , and parameters num and range specifying the maximum number and size of these areas, the algorithm is as follows: 17

2. For each area: (a) Randomly choose the area size (between 1 and range) (b) Randomly choose a postal sector around which the area will be centred (c) Add all postal sectors within range minutes drive time of the chosen postal sector to the area. 3. Add to the child elements from parent A which are outwith the chosen areas 4. Following the ?rst method: (a) add to the child elements from parent B which are within the chosen areas (b) If there are too many open dealerships in the child, remove dealers randomly from outwith the chosen areas (c) Randomly add extra dealerships if necessary. 5. Following the second method: (a) for every element within the chosen areas, randomly chose the parent from which to inherit the value of that element (b) If there are too few dealerships in the chromosome, randomly add dealers within the areas only (c) If there are too many dealerships, randomly delete dealers within the areas only

An example of groups of postal sectors selected by this algorithm is shown in ?gure 4.

6.3.5

Local-Mutate

This operator takes three parameters, a chromosome, a probability p and a distance d, which is expressed as a drive time. It loops as many times as there are open dealerships in the chromosome it is given, at each step randomly choosing a number between zero and one, and if it is less than p, either randomly closing a dealership and then opening one within distance

d of the closed dealership, or randomly opening a dealership and then closing one

within distance d of the newly opened dealership. Thus only local changes are made to the position of dealerships.

6.3.6

IRP-Mutate

This operator is an example of hybridisation, incorporating methods used in the IRP into a GA mutation operator. It takes as parameters a chromosome, a probability p and a number of mutations, m, and functions as follows: For i = 1 to m do 18

Figure 4: Spatial operator with parameters

num = 5 and range = 80 choosing three areas in the UK.

1. randomly choose a real number, r, between 0 and 1. 2. if r < p then (a) randomly determine whether to open or close a dealership, using IRP techniques to select the best unopened dealer or the worst dealer currently open, respectively (b) if a dealership is to be opened then ?rst randomly delete one, then run the SIM with notional dealerships established in every postal sector without an open dealership. Open the best notional dealership. else (a dealership is to be closed) run the SIM with only dealers in the chromosome open, and close the 19

As will be seen in section 7, this operator is very successful, both in complementing the performance of the spatial operator and also when used alone without any crossover operator. The disadvantage of this operator is that, while it improves the quality of solutions in terms of maximising sales, it reduces the diversity between chromosomes found by the GA.

6.3.7

Binary-rm

This operator is similar in method to binary-tournament. Two chromosomes are randomly picked from the population. The less ?t between them is removed with a probability provided by the user. This operator also uses elitism, ensuring that the best member of the population is never removed.

6.3.8

SIM

The spatial interaction model, which is used as the evaluation function for the GA, is implemented in parallel as described in section 5.2, with a few alterations: The chromosome must be copied from the front end to the CM before evaluation After the SIM is run, the dealer sales are still distributed within the parallel sector data structure. To obtain the total network sales, which is returned to the front end as the network’s ?tness, these sales are summed for each postal sector, and then across the sectors, and the result returned. The operators binary-tournament and binary-rm are always used, with parameter 0.6 in both cases and the evaluation function is always the SIM. The choice of other operators (to perform crossover, mutation and initialisation) and their parameters, varies for different problems. New children are generated and placed directly into the population, removing an old member of the population, rather than generating enough children for a new population and then replacing the whole population at one time.

7 GA Results
To test the suitability of GA techniques for this real world dealer network optimisation problem, a variety of different sizes and types of problem have been investigated. Initially, we used a regular triangular lattice of 91 20

could produce results comparable to those of other standard methods. Secondly, the GA was used to ?nd dealership networks within a single region of Britain, for example, Strathclyde. Various sizes of network were sought within this region, to see how well the genetic algorithm coped with different problem sizes. Finally, the performance of the GA when optimising networks covering the whole UK was evaluated, again using various sizes of network.

7.1

Network Optimisation in the Strathclyde Region

The GA was used to optimise various sizes of network in the Strathclyde region of the UK, to compare the results achievable through the use of GAs to those for existing GMAP techniques. After testing various combinations of parameters and operators, the following were selected for use in our standard test runs: Crossover : Spatial-crossover, parameters

num = 4, range = 50 and p = 0.5 (i.e.

up to four patches

with radius of up to 50 minutes drive time are chosen, and there is an equal probability of choosing either method to combine the chromosomes). Mutation operators: local-mutate, parameters and m = 1 Population Size: 75 The graphs presented in ?gures 5 to 7 show the performance of the GA optimising networks of sizes 20, 35 and 50 dealers in Strathclyde region. All performance measures are taken as an average over at least four GA runs. For each network size, there are two graphs. The ?rst shows the performance of a random search algorithm (instead of crossover and mutation, a random chromosome is generated at each update); an IRP solution; a GA starting with a population of IRP solutions; and a GA starting from a random population. This ?rst graph only shows a few (50 to 80) generations, as the random search and the GA starting with IRP solutions progress very little after quite a small number of generations. In comparison, the second graph shows the performance of a GA starting from a random population over a longer time period (from 250 to 1000 generations). For these tests, the GA ran at about one generation per minute. These tests show that the GA starting with a random population can improve on the IRP solution for networks of up to 35 dealerships within 1000 generations. For the network of 50 dealerships, it was still improving the 21

p = 0.05 and d = 25 and IRP-mutate, parameters p = 0.2

fitness
11500 11300 11100 10900 10700 10500 10300 10100 9900 9700 9500 9300 9100 8900 8700 8500 8300 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 random search IRP with 1 dealer per district GA starting from IRP solutions GA with random start

fitness
11500 11300 11100 10900 10700 10500 10300 10100 9900 9700 9500 9300 9100 8900 8700 8500 8300 0 25 50 75 100 125 150 175 200 225 250 275 300 IRP with 1 dealer per district GA with random start

generations
Figure 5: Finding Networks of 20 dealerships in Strathclyde.

generations

network at 1000 generations, and so may have bettered the IRP solution eventually, but the time taken to run many more generations made this impractical. There is a clear pattern — as problem complexity increases, so does the number of generations required for the GA to ?nd a solution better than the IRP. Starting from a population of IRP solutions, the GA ?nds a better solution than the IRP in all cases, generally after very few generations. Table 3 shows the average ?tnesses found at the end of the GA runs and the best solutions found, for all network sizes, including networks of size ten, for which graphs are not presented.

Although the GA starting from a population of IRP solutions generally gives the best ?nal results in terms of sales, both on average and in providing the best solutions, the GAs starting from a random population have the advantage that the solutions they provide are more spatially diverse. While the former differ in terms of spatial structure from the IRP solution by about 20% for all network sizes, the latter differ from between 20% for networks of ten dealerships, to 50% for networks of 50 dealerships. Thus if a few different good solutions are sought, starting the GA with a random population is more effective. 22

fitness
15500 15300 15100 14900 14700 14500 14300 14100 13900 13700 13500 13300 13100 12900 12700 12500 12300 12100 11900 0 10 20 30

fitness
15500 15300 15100 14900 14700 14500 14300 14100 13900 13700 13500 13300 13100 12900 12700 12500 12300 12100 11900 0

random search IRP with 1 dealer per district GA starting from IRP solutions GA with random start

IRP with 1 dealer per district GA with random start

40

50

60

100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 900 1000

generations
Figure 6: Finding Networks of 35 dealerships in Strathclyde.

generations

7.2

Optimising Dealer Networks Covering the UK

The genetic algorithms used to ?nd networks of dealerships in Strathclyde followed a standard format whether they were starting from a random population or a population of IRP solutions. However, in order to ?nd good solutions to the much harder dealer network optimisation problem for the UK, the techniques used for the generation of different initial populations had to be adapted.

Table 3: Best and Average solutions found by GA techniques for Strathclyde.
Network size IRP with 1 dealer per district 10 20 35 50 7100 11031 15197 18468 Best GA soln. starting with a random population 7579 11450 15300 18364 Ave. GA soln. starting with a random population 7562 11221 15291 18291 Best GA soln. starting with IRP networks 7486 11470 15452 18495 Ave. GA soln. starting with IRP networks 7429 11420 15411 18489

23

fitness
18800 18600 18400 18200 18000 17800 17600 17400 17200 17000 16800 16600 16400 16200 16000 15800 15600 15400 15200 15000 14800 0 10 20 30 40

fitness
18800 18600 18400 18200 18000 17800 17600 17400 17200 17000 16800 16600 16400 16200 16000 15800 15600 15400 15200 15000 14800 0

random search IRP with 1 dealer per district GA starting from IRP solutions GA with random start

IRP with 1 dealer per district GA with random start

50

60

70

80

100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 900 1000

generations
Figure 7: Finding Networks of 50 dealerships in Strathclyde.

generations

7.2.1

Testing GAs Starting from Random Populations

The GA starting from a random population for the UK was very similar to that used for the Strathclyde data set. Various parameters were tried for the spatial crossover operator; choosing up to 10 patches of radius up to 80 minutes drive time proved to be the most effective. The population size was raised to 100. Otherwise, the operators and parameters were exactly as for the Strathclyde region. The results for optimising UK networks of sizes 10, 50 and 75 are shown in ?gures 8 and 9, taking averages over three runs in each case. Only three runs were used, as the variance between results on individual runs is very low. The IRP solution, a random search technique and a standard crossover operator (RRR [8]) are shown for comparison. The GA ?nds networks with higher sales than the IRP for networks of up to, and slightly over, 50 dealers. The results from a single region within the UK, containing only 130 postal districts (as opposed to the 2600 districts within the UK), showed that a GA using the spatial crossover operator could not outperform the IRP when looking for a 50 dealer network in this region. The search space in this case is much smaller; roughly 1036 for the single region compared to 10106 for the whole UK. This indicates that, as would be expected, the spatial crossover operator performs better when given a larger area to work wit hin, and also possibly that the IRP techniques do not scale well as the problem size increases. It can also be seen from the graphs that the use of the spatial crossover 24

fitness
12400 11900 11400 10900 10400 9900 9400 8900 8400 7900 7400 6900 6400 5900 5400 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110 120

fitness
41500 39500 37500 35500 33500 random search IRP with 1 dealer per district GA with random start GA using RRR crossover 27500 25500 23500 21500 0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 900 1000 31500 29500 random search IRP with 1 dealer per district GA with random start GA using RRR crossover

generations

generations

Figure 8: Finding Networks of 10 and 50 dealerships in the UK using a GA starting from a random population.

operator improves solution quality when compared to the more standard RRR crossover technique. This conforms with an expectation that incorporating problem knowledge should allow us to improve performance. Time was too limited to test the GA for more than 850 generations for networks of 75 dealers; the GA takes about 75 seconds to complete each generation (each generation is 100 updates), running on the Connection Machine 200, so 850 generations take over 17 hours to complete. In the 75 dealer case, although the GA did not do better the IRP solution after 850 generations, it was still progressing steadily.

7.2.2

Testing GAs with Initial Populations of IRP-like Solutions

Most of the work carried out for the UK data set involved ?nding good initial populations and update techniques for GAs starting from a population of IRP-like solutions, since working from a purely random start requires so many generations. Firstly, initial populations generated by the IRP-network operator were examined. For example, for networks of 50 dealers, strategies for creating initial populations varied from mutating 50-dealer IRP solutions, to picking 50 dealers from 120-dealer networks generated by the IRP. Our results indicate that the best method for selecting an initial population from those tested is to take 50 dealerships from an IRP network of 80 dealerships, with no mutation on the resulting networks. 25

fitness
57000 54340 51680 49020 46360 43700 41040 38380 35720 33060 30400 0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 900 random search IRP with 1 dealer per district GA with random start

generations

Figure 9: Finding Networks of 75 dealerships in the UK using a GA starting from a random population. Having found a way to generate a good initial population, the next step was to try and get the GA to combine these chromosomes effectively. Various update schemes were tried, their success being measured by the average ?tness of the chromosomes produced by them. It seems from these tests that the most effective update rule is to use the IRP-mutate operator alone; this was reinforced by comparing the ?ttest chromosomes found by a couple of short GA runs using crossover and mutation, and mutation alone. So the update scheme was simply to pick a chromosome from the population, duplicate it, run IRP-mutate on the new chromosome, then add it to the population. For different sizes of network, it was obviously necessary to alter the size of IRP network used as input, and the number of IRP mutations done in one update. The ?gures shown in table 4 were chosen (again by brief comparisons of likely parameters). Table 4: Parameters chosen for IRP-network and IRP-mutate using the UK data set.
Network Size 10 50 75 100 Size of IRP Network input 20 80 110 140 Number of IRP mutations 5 10 10 15

The results of the UK GA tests, averaged over three runs, are shown in ?gures 10 and 11, with the IRP solutions marked for comparison. In all cases, a solution substantially better than the IRP is found in a very small number of 26

involves a call to the SIM. The time required for one generation of updates on the CM-200, when ten IRP mutations are done in every update, is around thirteen minutes. However, only a few generations are required to improve substantially on standard heuristic techniques. Table 5 presents the average and best solutions found by both GA methods for all networks sizes tested for the UK data set.

fitness
12400 12250 12100 11950 11800 11650 11500 11350 11200 11050 10900 10750 10600 10450 10300 0 1

10 Dealers

fitness
44300 44000 43700 43400 43100 42800 42500

50 Dealers

IRP with 1 dealer per district GA starting from IRP solutions

42200 41900 41600 41300 41000 40700 40400

IRP with 1 dealer per district GA starting from IRP solutions

2

3

4

5

6

0

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

generations

generations

Figure 10: Finding Networks of 10 and 50 dealerships in the UK using a GA starting from a population of IRP-like solutions.

We therefore see that the GA starting from IRP-like solutions does much better in terms of sales than the GA starting from a random population in all cases. However, as was the case with Strathclyde, immunisation hinders the variation in the results; starting with a random population provides a much greater spatial diversity of solutions. The GA solutions starting from a population of IRP-like solutions differs from the IRP solution with respect to dealership locations by an average of 35%. In comparison, the GA starting from a random population differs from the IRP solution by over 80% on average. Figure 12 show three networks of 50 dealerships in the UK. The ?rst is generated by the IRP and has predicted sales of 40439. The second network is generated by a GA starting from a random population, and has predicted sales of 41443. The ?nal network is generated by the GA using an initial population of IRP solutions, and has predicted sales of 44362. It can be seen that the GA starting from a random population provides a network in which dealerships are more widely distributed than they are in the IRP solution. The GA starting from IRP solutions also generates a network which has slightly less clustering than in the IRP solution. This was the case for all networks examined; in particular, fewer dealerships around the London area 27

fitness
61800 61300 60800 60300 59800 59300 58800 58300 57800 57300 56800 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 IRP with 1 dealer per district GA starting from IRP solutions

fitness
75200 74900 74600 74300 74000 73700 73400 73100 72800 72500 72200 71900 71600 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 IRP with 1 dealer per district GA starting from IRP solutions

generations

generations

Figure 11: Finding Networks of 75 and 100 dealerships in the UK using a GA starting from a population of IRP-like solutions.

were chosen in every case.

Table 5: Best and Average solutions found by GA techniques for the UK.
Network size IRP with 1 dealer per district 10 50 75 100 10374 40439 56896 71718 Best GA soln. starting with a random pop. 12354 41443 52458 64531 Ave. GA soln. starting with a random pop. 12326 41389 52130 62583 Best GA soln. starting with IRP-like networks 12419 44362 61799 75256 Ave. GA soln. starting with IRP-like networks 12285 44015 60683 75162

Therefore, in cases where the networks provided by the GA starting from a random population predict high enough sales to be of interest, (perhaps better than or close to the performance of the IRP), networks generated in this manner should provide a useful alternative to those formed using the IRP. Additionally, one run of the GA can supply a set of good solutions, each of which may offer substantially different spatial arrangements which can then be compared to any existing network. 28

The results presented in this section can be summarised as follows:

The GA immunised with a population of IRP solutions performs better than the IRP in terms of sales in all cases tested, increasing predicted sales by up to 20%, and generally providing a slightly more widely distributed network. The solutions provided differ in their dealership locations from their corresponding IRP solutions by between 20% (Strathclyde) and 35% (UK). Starting the GA with a random population allows the development of more pro?table networks than the IRP within short timescales for networks of around 50 dealers. In cases where it failed to ?nd better solutions, the GA was still evolving, and might well have found a better solution given more time. The spatial diversity of these solutions in relation to the relevant IRP solution was high, from between 20% and 50% in Strathclyde, to 80% in the UK.

Thus GA techniques can produce qualitatively better results than the existing IRP technique, especially in terms of the spatial variety of different solutions. Starting the GA from IRP solutions can be used to quickly improve on a solution after the IRP has been run, while the GA starting from a random population can ?nd alternative networks to that provided by the IRP. This could be used if, for example, a close match to an existing network was sought, or a variety of possible network structures should be explored, which may have advantages and drawbacks not accounted for by the SIM. Additionally, one run of the GA can supply a set of good solutions, each of which may offer substantially different spatial arrangements.

8

CONCLUSION

This scale of improved simulation performance, coupled with new stochastic optimisation techniques, obviously has substantial strategic impact for Ford and other businesses wishing to use this new technology. A parallel implementation of a spatial interaction model will be of interest to any organisation wishing to develop or adjust a network of sales or service outlets, since they can now simulate the effects on overall pro?t/turnover that different structures can produce. This technology may be of particular interest to organisations with existing outlets, who may wish to either expand their coverage, or alternatively rationalise their number of branches. For example, one could imagine that banking organisations could plan the optimal (in terms of number of customers reached) 29

potential customers residing within a certain distance of a store; or a service company needing to cut outlet costs by a given percentage, could identify the new reduced network that still provides maximum service coverage; or retailers could select an optimal subset of stores for a new product launch. On a wider scale, the technique of using genetic algorithms to perform stochastic optimisation, has very many other areas of applicability. Any business that can increase pro?tability through better organisation of their complex operational activities, should consider whether they can make use of this advanced technique to discover the best possible strategies. For example, GAs could be used to assist with planning for optimal use of all human and material resources, whether this be the scheduling of machinery and transport, the interaction of projects and staf?ng, or the optimisation of use of raw materials and products.

9 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
EPCC is a multidisciplinary centre supported by major contracts from European industry and grants from the Department of Trade and Industry, the Computer Board and the EPSRC. It is a pleasure to acknowledge substantial additional support from the University of Edinburgh and from the Industrial Collaborators and Af?liates of the centre. In particular, I would like to thank GMAP Ltd., for their support and collaboration in this project.

References
[1] A G Wilson: Geography and the Environment, Systems Analytical Methods. Wiley, 1981. [2] The Connection Machine CM-200 Series - A Technical Summary. Thinking Machines Corporation, 1991. [3] Felicity A. W. George : Spatial Interaction Modelling on Parallel Computers: Implementation Document. Project Report, EPCC, 1993. [4] John H. Holland, Adaptation in Natural and Arti?cial Systems. University of Michigan Press (Ann Arbor), 1975. [5] James D. Kelly, Lawrence Davis : Hybridizing the Genetic Algorithm and the K Nearest Neighbours Classi?cation Algorithm, Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Genetic Algorithms, Morgan Kaufmann, 1991. 30

[7] D. E. Goldberg, K. Deb : A Comparative Analysis of Selection Schemes Used in Genetic Algorithms, Foundations of Genetic Algorithms, G. J. E. Rawlins, 1990. [8] Nicholas J. Radcliffe : Genetic Set Recombination, Foundations of Genetic Algorithms 2, Morgan Kaufmann, 1992. [9] Claudio V. Russo : A General Framework for Implementing Genetic Algorithms Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre, Technical Report EPCC–SS91–17, 1991. [10] M Birkin: Spatial Interaction Modelling on Parallel Computers. Internal report, GMAP Ltd, 1992.

31

Random GA Solution

IRP solution

IRP-GA solution

Figure 12: Networks of 50 dealers generated using the IRP, a GA with a random initial population and a GA with an initial population of IRP-like solutions. 32



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