We compared the performance of three heuristics with that of subjects on variants of a well-known combinatorial optimization task, the Traveling Salesperson Problem (TSP). The present task consisted of finding the shortest path through an array of points from one side of the array to the other. Like the standard TSP, the task is computationally intractable and, as with the standard TSP, people appear to be able to find good solutions with relative ease. The three heuristics used mechanisms that have been cited as potentially relevant in human performance in the standard task. These were: convex hull, nearest neighbor, and crossing avoidance. We compared heuristic and human performance in terms of lengths of paths, overlap between solutions, and number of crossings. Of the three heuristics, the convex hull appeared to result in the best overall fit withhuman solutions.
MacGregor, James N.; Chronicle, Edward P.; and Ormerod, Thomas C.
"A Comparison of Heuristic and Human Performance on Open Versions of the Traveling Salesperson Problem,"
The Journal of Problem Solving: Vol. 1
, Article 5.
Available at: http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/jps/vol1/iss1/5