# Combinatorial Benders Decomposition for the Two-Dimensional Bin Packing Problem

Published Online:https://doi.org/10.1287/ijoc.2020.1014

The two-dimensional bin packing problem calls for packing a set of rectangular items into a minimal set of larger rectangular bins. Items must be packed with their edges parallel to the borders of the bins, cannot be rotated, and cannot overlap among them. The problem is of interest because it models many real-world applications, including production, warehouse management, and transportation. It is, unfortunately, very difficult, and instances with just 40 items are unsolved to proven optimality, despite many attempts, since the 1990s. In this paper, we solve the problem with a combinatorial Benders decomposition that is based on a simple model in which the two-dimensional items and bins are just represented by their areas, and infeasible packings are imposed by means of exponentially many no-good cuts. The basic decomposition scheme is quite naive, but we enrich it with a number of preprocessing techniques, valid inequalities, lower bounding methods, and enhanced algorithms to produce the strongest possible cuts. The resulting algorithm behaved very well on the benchmark sets of instances, improving on average on previous algorithms from the literature and solving for the first time a number of open instances.

Summary of Contribution: We address the two-dimensional bin packing problem (2D-BPP), which calls for packing a set of rectangular items into a minimal set of larger rectangular bins. The 2D-BPP is a very difficult generalization of the standard one-dimensional bin packing problem, and it has been widely studied in the past because it models many real-world applications, including production, warehouse management, and transportation. We solve the 2D-BPP with a combinatorial Benders decomposition that is based on a model in which the two-dimensional items and bins are represented by their areas, and infeasible packings are imposed by means of exponentially many no-good cuts. The basic decomposition scheme is quite naive, but it is enriched with a number of preprocessing techniques, valid inequalities, lower bounding methods, and enhanced algorithms to produce the strongest possible cuts. The algorithm we developed has been extensively tested on the most well-known benchmark set from the literature, which contains 500 instances. It behaved very well, improving on average upon previous algorithms, and solving for the first time a number of open instances. We analyzed in detail several configurations before obtaining the best one and discussed several insights from this analysis in the manuscript.

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