Orienteering Algorithms for Generating Travel Itineraries
We study the problem of automatically and efficiently generating itineraries for users who are on vacation. We focus on the common case, wherein the trip duration is more than a single day. Previous efficient algorithms based on greedy heuristics suffer from two problems. First, the itineraries are often unbalanced, with excellent days visiting top attractions followed by days of exclusively lower-quality alternatives. Second, the trips often re-visit neighborhoods repeatedly in order to cover increasingly low-tier points of interest. Our primary technical contribution is an algorithm that addresses both these problems by maximizing the quality of the worst day. We give theoretical results showing that this algorithm's competitive factor is within a factor two of the guarantee of the best available algorithm for a single day, across many variations of the problem. We also give detailed empirical evaluations using two distinct datasets: (a) anonymized Google historical visit data and (b) Foursquare public check-in data. We show first that the overall utility of our itineraries is almost identical to that of algorithms specifically designed to maximize total utility, while the utility of the worst day of our itineraries is roughly twice that obtained from other approaches. We then turn to evaluation based on human raters who score our itineraries only slightly below the itineraries created by human travel experts with deep knowledge of the area.