Optimization by Simulated Annealing

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Science  13 May 1983:
Vol. 220, Issue 4598, pp. 671-680
DOI: 10.1126/science.220.4598.671


There is a deep and useful connection between statistical mechanics (the behavior of systems with many degrees of freedom in thermal equilibrium at a finite temperature) and multivariate or combinatorial optimization (finding the minimum of a given function depending on many parameters). A detailed analogy with annealing in solids provides a framework for optimization of the properties of very large and complex systems. This connection to statistical mechanics exposes new information and provides an unfamiliar perspective on traditional optimization problems and methods.