A new and improved algorithm for online bin packing

János Balogh, József Békési, György Dósa, Leah Epstein, Asaf Levin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


We revisit the classic online bin packing problem studied in the half-century. In this problem, items of positive sizes no larger than 1 are presented one by one to be packed into subsets called bins of total sizes no larger than 1, such that every item is assigned to a bin before the next item is presented. We use online partitioning of items into classes based on sizes, as in previous work, but we also apply a new method where items of one class can be packed into more than two types of bins, where a bin type is defined according to the number of such items grouped together. Additionally, we allow the smallest class of items to be packed in multiple kinds of bins, and not only into their own bins. We combine this with the approach of packing of sufficiently big items according to their exact sizes. Finally, we simplify the analysis of such algorithms, allowing the analysis to be based on the most standard weight functions. This simplified analysis allows us to study the algorithm which we defined based on all these ideas. This leads us to the design and analysis of the first algorithm of asymptotic competitive ratio strictly below 1.58, specifically, we break this barrier by providing an algorithm AH (Advanced Harmonic) whose asymptotic competitive ratio does not exceed 1.57829. Our main contribution is the introduction of the simple analysis based on weight function to analyze the state of the art online algorithms for the classic online bin packing problem. The previously used analytic tool named weight system was too complicated for the community in this area to adjust it for other problems and other algorithmic tools that are needed in order to improve the current best algorithms. We show that the weight system based analysis is not needed for the analysis of the current algorithms for the classic online bin packing problem. The importance of a simple analysis is demonstrated by analyzing several new features together with all existing techniques, and by proving a better competitive ratio than the previously best one.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication26th European Symposium on Algorithms, ESA 2018
EditorsHannah Bast, Grzegorz Herman, Yossi Azar
PublisherSchloss Dagstuhl- Leibniz-Zentrum fur Informatik GmbH, Dagstuhl Publishing
Pages5:1– 5:14
ISBN (Print)9783959770811
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2018
Event26th European Symposium on Algorithms, ESA 2018 - Helsinki, Finland
Duration: 20 Aug 201822 Aug 2018

Publication series

NameLeibniz International Proceedings in Informatics, LIPIcs
ISSN (Print)1868-8969


Conference26th European Symposium on Algorithms, ESA 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Janos Balogh, Jozsef Bekesi, Gyorgy Dosa, Leah Epstein, and Asaf Levin.


  • Bin packing
  • Competitive analysis
  • Online algorithms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software


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