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Robust facility location
(1998)

Let A be a nonempty finite subset of R^2 representing the geographical coordinates of a set of demand points (towns, ...), to be served by a facility, whose location within a given region S is sought. Assuming that the unit cost for a in A if the facility is located at x in S is proportional to dist(x,a) - the distance from x to a - and that demand of point a is given by w_a, minimizing the total trnsportation cost TC(w,x) amounts to solving the Weber problem. In practice, it may be the case, however, that the demand vector w is not known, and only an estimator {hat w} can be provided. Moreover the errors in sich estimation process may be non-negligible. We propose a new model for this situation: select a threshold valus B 0 representing the highest admissible transportation cost. Define the robustness p of a location x as the minimum increase in demand needed to become inadmissible, i.e. p(x) = min{||w^*-{hat w}|| : TC(w^*,x) B, w^* = 0} and solve then the optimization problem max_{x in S} p(x) to get the most robust location.

It is well-known that some of the classical location problems with polyhedral gauges can be solved in polynomial time by finding a finite dominating set, i.e. a finite set of candidates guaranteed to contain at least one optimal location. In this paper it is first established that this result holds for a much larger class of problems than currently considered in the literature. The model for which this result can be proven includes, for instance, location problems with attraction and repulsion, and location-allocation problems. Next, it is shown that the approximation of general gauges by polyhedral ones in the objective function of our general model can be analyzed with regard to the subsequent error in the optimal objective value. For the approximation problem two different approaches are described, the sandwich procedure and the greedy algorithm. Both of these approaches lead - for fixed epsilon - to polynomial approximation algorithms with accuracy epsilon for solving the general model considered in this paper.