How the Landscape of Random Job Shop Scheduling Instances Depends on the Ratio of Jobs to Machines

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We characterize the search landscape of random instances of the job shop scheduling problem (JSP). Specifically, we investigate how the expected values of (1) backbone size, (2) distance between near-optimal schedules, and (3) makespan of random schedules vary as a function of the job to machine ratio (N/M). For the limiting cases N/M approaches 0 and N/M approaches infinity we provide analytical results, while for intermediate values of N/M we perform experiments. We prove that as N/M approaches 0, backbone size approaches 100%, while as N/M approaches infinity the backbone vanishes. In the process we show that as N/M approaches 0 (resp. N/M approaches infinity), simple priority rules almost surely generate an optimal schedule, providing theoretical evidence of an "easy-hard-easy" pattern of typical-case instance difficulty in job shop scheduling. We also draw connections between our theoretical results and the "big valley" picture of JSP landscapes.

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