We present an exact method, based on an arc-flow formulation with side constraints, for solving bin packing and cutting stock problems --- including multi-constraint variants --- by simply representing all the patterns in a very compact graph. Our method includes a graph compression algorithm that usually reduces the size of the underlying graph substantially without weakening the model. As opposed to our method, which provides strong models, conventional models are usually highly symmetric and provide very weak lower bounds.
Our formulation is equivalent to Gilmore and Gomory's, thus providing a very strong linear relaxation. However, instead of using column-generation in an iterative process, the method constructs a graph, where paths from the source to the target node represent every valid packing pattern.
The same method, without any problem-specific parameterization, was used to solve a large variety of instances from several different cutting and packing problems. In this paper, we deal with vector packing, graph coloring, bin packing, cutting stock, cardinality constrained bin packing, cutting stock with cutting knife limitation, cutting stock with binary patterns, bin packing with conflicts, and cutting stock with binary patterns and forbidden pairs. We report computational results obtained with many benchmark test data sets, all of them showing a large advantage of this formulation with respect to the traditional ones.
Keywords: Bin Packing, Cutting Stock, Vector Packing, Arc-flow Formulation.