Heterogeneous Simulated Annealing Teams: An Optimizing Search Algorithm Inspired by Engineering Design Teams

McComb, C. , Cagan, J. , and Kotovsky, K.

2015, International Conference on Engineering Design

Although insights uncovered by design cognition are often utilized to develop the methods used by human designers, using such insights to inform computational methodologies also has the potential to improve the performance of design algorithms. This paper uses insights from research on design cognition and design teams to inform a better simulated annealing search algorithm. Simulated annealing has already been established as a model of individual problem solving. This paper introduces the Heterogeneous Simulated Annealing Team (HSAT) algorithm, a multi-agent simulated annealing algorithm. Each agent controls an adaptive annealing schedule, allowing the team develop heterogeneous search strategies. Such diversity is a natural part of engineering design, and boosts performance in other multi-agent algorithms. Further, interaction between agents in HSAT is structured to mimic interaction between members of a design team. Performance is compared to several other simulated annealing algorithms, a random search algorithm, and a gradient-based algorithm. Compared to other algorithms, the team-based HSAT algorithm returns better average results with lower variance.