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  • The vehicle routing problem is a combinatorial optimization and integer programming problem seeking to service a number of customers with a fleet of vehicles. Proposed by Dantzig and Ramser in 1959, VRP is an important problem in the fields of transportation, distribution and logistics. Often the context is that of delivering goods located at a central depot to customers who have placed orders for such goods. The objective of the VRP is to minimize the total route cost. Determining the optimal solution is an NP-complete problem in combinatorial optimization, so in practice heuristic and deterministic methods have been developed that find acceptably good solutions for the VRP. MJC² has a non-technical explanation for why the VRP is much more challenging than might be expected.