DOI: 10.3390/a17020072 ISSN: 1999-4893

An Attention-Based Method for the Minimum Vertex Cover Problem on Complex Networks

Giorgio Lazzarinetti, Riccardo Dondi, Sara Manzoni, Italo Zoppis
  • Computational Mathematics
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics
  • Numerical Analysis
  • Theoretical Computer Science

Solving combinatorial problems on complex networks represents a primary issue which, on a large scale, requires the use of heuristics and approximate algorithms. Recently, neural methods have been proposed in this context to find feasible solutions for relevant computational problems over graphs. However, such methods have some drawbacks: (1) they use the same neural architecture for different combinatorial problems without introducing customizations that reflects the specificity of each problem; (2) they only use a nodes local information to compute the solution; (3) they do not take advantage of common heuristics or exact algorithms. Following this interest, in this research we address these three main points by designing a customized attention-based mechanism that uses both local and global information from the adjacency matrix to find approximate solutions for the Minimum Vertex Cover Problem. We evaluate our proposal with respect to a fast two-factor approximation algorithm and a widely adopted state-of-the-art heuristic both on synthetically generated instances and on benchmark graphs with different scales. Experimental results demonstrate that, on the one hand, the proposed methodology is able to outperform both the two-factor approximation algorithm and the heuristic on the test datasets, scaling even better than the heuristic with harder instances and, on the other hand, is able to provide a representation of the nodes which reflects the combinatorial structure of the problem.

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