Iterated Greedy Algorithms for Flow-Shop Scheduling Problems: A Tutorial

Zi Yan Zhao, Meng Chu Zhou, Shi Xin Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


An iterated greedy algorithm (IGA) is a simple and powerful heuristic algorithm. It is widely used to solve flow-shop scheduling problems (FSPs), an important branch of production scheduling problems. IGA was first developed to solve an FSP in 2007. Since then, various FSPs have been tackled by using IGA-based methods, including basic IGA, its variants, and hybrid algorithms with IGA integrated. Up until now, over 100 articles related to this field have been published. However, to the best of our knowledge, there is no existing tutorial or review paper of IGA. Thus, we focus on FSPs and provide a tutorial and comprehensive literature review of IGA-based methods. First, we introduce a framework of basic IGA and give an example to clearly show its procedure. To help researchers and engineers learn and apply IGA to their FSPs, we provide an open platform to collect and share related materials. Then, we make classifications of the solved FSPs according to their scheduling scenarios, objective functions, and constraints. Next, we classify and introduce the specific methods and strategies used in each phase of IGA for FSPs. Besides, we summarize IGA variants and hybrid algorithms with IGA integrated, respectively. Finally, we discuss the current IGA-based methods and already-solved FSP instances, as well as some important future research directions according to their deficiency and open issues. Note to Practitioners - Many practical scheduling problems can be transformed into flow-shop scheduling problems (FSPs), most of which are NP-hard. In order to solve them in an industrial system setting, designing effective heuristics is important and practically useful and has, thus, attracted much attention from both researchers and engineers. As an easy and high-performance heuristic, an iterated greedy algorithm (IGA) is widely used and adapted to solve numerous FSPs. Its simple framework makes it easy to be implemented by practitioners, and its high performance implies its great potential to solve industrial scheduling problems. In this work, we aim to give practitioners a comprehensive overview of IGA and help them apply IGA to solve their particular industrial scheduling problems. We review the papers that solve FSPs with IGA-based methods, including basic IGA, its variants, and hybrid algorithms with IGA integrated. First, we provide practitioners with a tutorial on IGA, where an example for solving an FSP is introduced and an open platform is constructed. The platform collects and shares the related materials, e.g., open-source code, benchmarks, and website links of important papers. Then, we introduce various FSPs and specific designs of IGA-based methods. Finally, we discuss the current research and point out future research issues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1941-1959
Number of pages19
JournalIEEE Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


  • Flow-shop scheduling problem (FSP)
  • heuristic algorithm
  • iterated greedy algorithm (IGA)
  • review
  • tutorial


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