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Valid Inequalities for Mixed-Integer Linear and Mixed-Integer Conic Programs

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posted on 01.05.2016, 00:00 by Sercan Yildiz

Mixed-integer programming provides a natural framework for modeling optimization problems which require discrete decisions. Valid inequalities, used as cutting-planes and cuttingsurfaces in integer programming solvers, are an essential part of today’s integer programming technology. They enable the solution of mixed-integer programs of greater scale and complexity by providing tighter mathematical descriptions of the feasible solution set. This dissertation presents new structural results on general-purpose valid inequalities for mixedinteger linear and mixed-integer conic programs. Cut-generating functions are a priori formulas for generating a cutting-plane from the data of a mixed-integer linear program. This concept has its roots in the work of Balas, Gomory, and Johnson from the 1970s. It has received renewed attention in the past few years. Gomory and Johnson studied cut-generating functions for the corner relaxation of a mixedinteger linear program, which ignores the nonnegativity constraints on the basic variables in a tableau formulation. We consider models where these constraints are not ignored. In our first contribution, we generalize a classical result of Gomory and Johnson characterizing minimal cut-generating functions in terms of subadditivity, symmetry, and periodicity. Our analysis also exposes shortcomings in the usual definition of minimality in our general setting. To remedy this, we consider stronger notions of minimality and show that these impose additional structure on cut-generating functions. A stronger notion than the minimality of a cut-generating function is its extremality. While extreme cut-generating functions produce powerful cutting-planes, their structure can be very complicated. For the corner relaxation of a one-row integer linear program, Gomory and Johnson identified continuous, piecewise linear, minimal cut-generating functions with only two distinct slope values as a “simple” class of extreme cut-generating functions. In our second contribution, we establish a similar result for a one-row problem which takes the nonnegativity constraint on the basic variable into account. In our third contribution, we consider a multi-row model where only continuous nonbasic variables are present. Conforti, Cornuéjols, Daniilidis, Lemaréchal, and Malick recently showed that not all cutting-planes can be obtained from cut-generating functions in this framework. They also conjectured a natural condition under which cut-generating functions might be sufficient. In our third contribution, we prove that this conjecture is true. This justifies the recent research interest in cut-generating functions for this model. Despite the power of mixed-integer linear programming, many optimization problems of practical and theoretical interest cannot be modeled using a linear objective function and constraints alone. Next, we turn to a natural generalization of mixed-integer linear programming which allows nonlinear convex constraints: mixed-integer conic programming. Disjunctive inequalities, introduced by Balas in the context of mixed-integer linear programming in the 1970s, have been a principal ingredient in the practical success of mixed-integer programming in the last two decades. In order to extend our understanding of disjunctive inequalities to mixed-integer conic programming, we pursue a principled study of two-term disjunctions on conic sets. In our fourth contribution, we consider two-term disjunctions on a general regular cone. A result of Kılınç-Karzan indicates that conic minimal valid linear inequalities are all that is needed for a closed convex hull description of such sets. First we characterize the structure of conic minimal and tight valid linear inequalities for the disjunction. Then we develop structured nonlinear valid inequalities for the disjunction by grouping subsets of valid linear inequalities. We analyze the structure of these inequalities and identify conditions which guarantee that a single such inequality characterizes the closed convex hull of the disjunction. In our fifth and sixth contributions, we extend our earlier results to the cases where the regular cone under consideration is a direct product of second order cones and nonnegative rays and where it is the positive semidefinite cone. Disjunctions on these cones deserve special attention because they provide fundamental relaxations for mixed-integer second-order cone and mixed-integer semidefinite programs. We identify conditions under which our valid convex inequalities can be expressed in computationally tractable forms and present techniques to generate low-complexity relaxations when these conditions are not satisfied. In our final contribution, we provide closed convex hull descriptions for homogeneous two-term disjunctions on the second-order cone and general two-term disjunctions on affine cross-sections of the second-order cone. Our results yield strong convex disjunctive inequalities which can be used as cutting-surfaces in generic mixed-integer conic programming solvers.




Degree Type



Tepper School of Business

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Gérard Cornuéjols