Gradient search is a classical technique for optimizing differentiable functions that has gained much relevance recently due to its application on Neural Network training. Despite its popularity, the application of gradient search has been limited to the continuous optimization and its usage in the combinatorial case is confined to a few works, all which tackle the binary search space. In this paper, we present a new approach for applying Gradient Search to the space of permutations. The idea consists of optimizing the expected objective value of a random variable defined over permutations. Such a random variable is distributed according to the Plackett-Luce model, and a gradient search over its continuous parameters is performed. Conducted experiments on a benchmark of the linear ordering problem confirm that the Gradient Search performs better than its counterpart Estimation of Distribution Algorithm: the Plackett-Luce EDA. Moreover, results reveal that the scalability of the Gradient Search is better than that of the PL-EDA.
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