Unsupervised Learning for Solving the Travelling Salesman Problem

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 36 (NeurIPS 2023) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper


Yimeng Min, Yiwei Bai, Carla P. Gomes


We propose UTSP, an Unsupervised Learning (UL) framework for solving the Travelling Salesman Problem (TSP). We train a Graph Neural Network (GNN) using a surrogate loss. The GNN outputs a heat map representing the probability for each edge to be part of the optimal path. We then apply local search to generate our final prediction based on the heat map. Our loss function consists of two parts: one pushes the model to find the shortest path and the other serves as a surrogate for the constraint that the route should form a Hamiltonian Cycle. Experimental results show that UTSP outperforms the existing data-driven TSP heuristics.Our approach is parameter efficient as well as data efficient: the model takes $\sim$ 10\% of the number of parameters and $\sim$ 0.2\% of training samples compared with Reinforcement Learning or Supervised Learning methods.