The “pure form” of the Traveling Salesman Problem is based upon some pretty dramatic restrictions; such as, the distance (or cost, or whatever) from A to B is the same as from B to A, and there’s no reason not to prefer the trip A-B-C-A over A-C-B-A.
In some of the applications the Home page mentions, these restrictions are reasonable. For example, if an automated machine tool has to drill three holes (labeled A, B, C) in a sheet of metal, then there’s no reason to prefer A-B-C over A-C-B. (In this case, there would be no need to return to A; there’s already a hole there!) Or suppose a space telescope has a list of stars to observe. There’s no reason to prefer one sequence of observations over another, other than wanting to conserve propellant; the stars aren’t moving, and the observing conditions are the same when looking at each of them.
Here’s the topic for this discussion:
General Note: To earn maximum credit, you should post to the module discussion board in the first week of each module. There’s no reason not to, because the discussions are non-technical. Each topic is intended to get us thinking about the type of management problem discussed in each module. The topics don’t require any research, or any prior knowledge of management; they’re based upon our own, mundane experiences.