How good are distributed allocation algorithms for solving urban search and rescue problems? A comparative study with centralized algorithms

In this paper, a modified centralized algorithm based on particle swarm optimization (MCPSO) is presented to solve the task allocation problem in the search and rescue domain. The reason for this paper is to provide a benchmark against distributed algorithms in search and rescue application area. The hypothesis of this paper is that a centralized algorithm should perform better than distributed algorithms because it has all the available information at hand to solve the problem. Therefore, the centralized approach will provide a benchmark for evaluating how well the distributed algorithms are working and how much improvement can still be gained. Among the distributed algorithms, the consensus-based bundle algorithm (CBBA) is a relatively recent method based on the market auction mechanism, which is receiving considerable attention. Other distributed algorithms, such as PI and PI with softmax, have shown to perform better than CBBA. Therefore, in this paper, the three distributed algorithms mentioned earlier are compared against three centralized algorithms. They are particle swarm optimization, MCPSO, described in this paper, and genetic algorithms. Two experiments were conducted. The first involved comparing all the above-mentioned algorithms, both centralized and distributed, using the same set of application scenarios. It is found that MCPSO always outperforms the other five algorithms in time cost. Due to the high failure rate of CBBA and the other two centralized methods, the second experiment focused on carrying out more tests to compare MCPSO against PI and PI with softmax. All the results are shown and analyzed to determine the performance gaps between the distributed algorithms and the MCPSO.