A mixed-integer bilevel programming approach for a competitive prioritized set covering problem

Mehdi Hemmati, J. Cole Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The competitive set covering problem is a two-player Stackelberg (leader-follower) game involving a set of items and clauses. The leader acts first to select a set of items, and with knowledge of the leader's action, the follower then selects another subset of items. There exists a set of clauses, where each clause is a prioritized set of items. A clause is satisfied by the selected item having the highest priority, resulting in a reward for the player that introduced the highest-priority selected item. We examine a mixed-integer bilevel programming (MIBLP) formulation for a competitive set covering problem, assuming that both players seek to maximize their profit. This class of problems arises in several fields, including non-cooperative product introduction and facility location games. We develop an MIBLP model for this problem in which binary decision variables appear in both stages of the model. Our contribution regards a cutting-plane algorithm, based on inequalities that support the convex hull of feasible solutions and induce faces of non-zero dimension in many cases. Furthermore, we investigate alternative verification problems to equip the algorithm with cutting planes that induce higher-dimensional faces, and demonstrate that the algorithm significantly improves upon existing general solution method for MIBLPs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-134
Number of pages30
JournalDiscrete Optimization
StatePublished - May 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Bilevel programming
  • Cutting planes
  • Integer programming
  • Stackelberg games

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics
  • Applied Mathematics


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