Solution for the Kaggle 2015 holiday competition
Go Processing Python Shell
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README.md

Kaggle Santa's Stolen Sleigh Solution

This repository contains my solution to the Kaggle Santa's Stolen Sleigh competition. The challenge was to find an optimal way to delivering presents distributed across the globe given a per-trip weight limit. Solutions were scored using a cost function based on distance and weight. The challenge's designer provides more detail in this post.

This was essentially a capacitated vehicle routing problem. I approached it by clustering presents based on geographic distance. To avoid an O(N^2) computation, I needed a way to efficiently determine a present's closest neighbors. I ended up using a form of spherical quad-tree, or Quaternary triangular mesh, based on a coordinate transformation method described in this paper.

To make sure I got the math right, I wrote a small prototype in Processing The following animation is an example of the prototype. The source code can be found under the utils directory.

sqt example

Given latitude and longitude locations, the SQT maps each of them to an octahedron face. The octahedron is then tessellated and the points mapped to the appropriate triangles. When the tessellation is done, locations close to each other get mapped to the same triangle. This substantially reduces the number of locations to consider when clustering. My SQT implementation is extremely simple - all points must be added before the tessellation is done and it doesn't support hierarchical querying. But the implementation can be extended to be a general purpose SQT.

In prior competitions, I ran into run-time issues with solutions implemented in R, Python, and Julia. This time I decided to try Go. I was very happy with this choice. Execution time was very short and I liked Go's minimalist syntax.