DIFUSCO: Graph-based Diffusion Solvers for Combinatorial Optimization

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 36 (NeurIPS 2023) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper


Zhiqing Sun, Yiming Yang


Neural network-based Combinatorial Optimization (CO) methods have shown promising results in solving various NP-complete (NPC) problems without relying on hand-crafted domain knowledge. This paper broadens the current scope of neural solvers for NPC problems by introducing a new graph-based diffusion framework, namely DIFUSCO. It formulates NPC problems into a discrete {0, 1}-vector space and uses graph-based denoising diffusion models to generate high-quality solutions. Specifically, we explore diffusion models with Gaussian and Bernoulli noise, respectively, and also introduce an effective inference schedule to improve the generation quality. We evaluate our methods on two well-studied combinatorial optimization problems: Traveling Salesman Problem (TSP) and Maximal Independent Set (MIS). Experimental results show that DIFUSCO strongly outperforms the previous state-of-the-art neural solvers, improving the performance gap between ground-truth and neural solvers from 1.76% to 0.46% on TSP-500, from 2.46% to 1.17% on TSP-1000, and from 3.19% to 2.58% on TSP-10000. For the MIS problem, DIFUSCO outperforms the previous state-of-the-art neural solver on the challenging SATLIB benchmark. Our code is available at this url.