Origin of The Project Generic Allocator

Before creating this project there was the idea, to create or use a system, in order to reason about complex or interactive systems like an economic system. Unfortunately, there were only theoretic considerations, about properties such a system would have. Therefore, these considerations had no big utility in practice, because an understanding for basic stuff was not present. These theoretic considerations were the way to get first tentative understandings about modelling complex systems.

It was expected that for such a system sometimes the only way to reason about such a system, would be to execute that system, while studying the effect of given parameters on the execution result. This though later lead to the crisis network project, which is not discussed here.

The idea of this project originated from an internship during my studies of computer science. During the internship the assignment problem solver  Universal Allocation Program  was developed. This program had two purposes.

First of all it had to assign pupils to a set of courses where each pupil had one or more preferred courses. Additionally, the number of pupil in each course was limited. Each course which took place also had to have more pupil than specified by a certain threshold.

The second goal of the program was to provide an expressive problem model. This was tested with a second problem. The task was to schedule exams of pupils. The problem could be modeled by the program. Unfortunately, the program was not able to solve it because a more advanced solving algorithm than present was needed.

The assignment problem model was used as a base, because the school problem at hand and other problem candidates during that time dealt with the problem of assigning some kind of resource to some kind of entities. In other words, the assignment problem model fits very well for topics in operation research.

One could say, that using an established open source assignment problem framework as a foundation would be best, but during this time no such framework was known for me on Java. Generally speaking, it was for me personally really hard to find such software online with an active community or at least good enough foundational code, because there were many CSP frameworks, but assignment problem frameworks were lacking. I also knew of some implementations in real life, but these were highly experimental, without documentation and licensing, or I did not have a chance of source code access. One could argue, that my naivety leaded me to creating unnecessary code. The topic of migrating this project to a different more actively maintained base framework is always some thought in the back of my head. What would or should happen if a better open source foundational framework would be found?

The goal of my master thesis was to create a new framework for assignment problems that had an improved problem model and superior solving routines compared to the Universal Allocation Program. Three scheduling problems of schools were used in order to validate the framework.

Two of the problems were optimally solved for the given test cases. The third problem was nearly solved but in the end correct solutions were not produced (for a given problem instance about 5 out of 508 assignments were done incorrectly). In addition, each problem required its own solving routine.

During the analysis of the school scheduling problems it became clear, that the hill climber and its simple adaptions would not be able to solve the problem. The main reason for that, is the inability of strait forward hill climbers to organize complex optimization steps, without improving the rating of the given solution during the organization phase.

Therefore, the algorithm constraint based repair was created (it is unknown if something like this already exists), which primary goal is to construct complex optimization steps, without the guidance of the solution's rating. It does this, by grouping variables according to the problem's description and the errors of the given solution. Afterward, complex optimizations events are created based on the variables' group.

After getting my master's degree in computer science I wanted to learn more about solution problems, artificial intelligence(AI) and programming. Therefore, I have created this hobby project in order to organize my learning process in this field. The framework of my master thesis (which is used as the project's name) is recycled for this undertaking.

Unfortunately, the foundation of the framework needs some improvement, which in practice leads to a rewrite of the framework. The improvements itself concerned mostly around making it easy to analyse problems and the process of running optimizers on problem instances. This was seen as essential, in order to be able to model and solve complex problems.

Sadly, this rewrite was a catastrophe, as it took too much time. This was basically caused by the method of writing the code from scratch. I basically looked at the code from the previous version and migrated it file by file to the next version, which is not that bad on its own. Regrettably, I thereby wrote the optimization interface and constraint system from scratch, so that too much of other code needed to be adjusted as well, which caused a lot of issues. A more detailed article about this can be found  here .