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A pseudo-polynomial heuristic for path-constrained discrete-time Markovian-target search

European Journal of Operational Research
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  • Search Theory
  • Heuristics
  • Markov Processes
  • Network Flows
  • Computer Science


We propose a new heuristic for the single-searcher path-constrained discrete-time Markovian-target search. The algorithm minimizes an approximate, instead of exact, nondetection probability computed from the conditional probability that reflects the search history over the time windows of a fixed length, l. Having a pseudo-polynomial complexity, it can solve, in reasonable time, the instances an order of magnitude larger than those solved in the previous studies. By an asymptotic analysis relying on the fast-mixing Markov chain, we show that the relative error of the approximation exponentially diminishes as l increases and the experimental results confirm the analysis. The experiment also reveals a correlation very close to 1 between the approximate and exact nondetection probability of a search path. This means that the heuristic produces near-optimal search paths.

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