This paper presents a smoothing heuristic for an NP-hard combinatorial problem. Starting with a convex Lagrangian relaxation, a pathfollowing method is applied to obtain good solutions while gradually transforming the relaxed problem into the original problem formulated with an exact penalty function. Starting points are drawn using different sampling techniques that use randomization and eigenvectors. The dual point that defines the convex relaxation is computed via eigenvalue optimization using subgradient techniques. The proposed method turns out to be competitive with the most recent ones. The idea presented here is generic and can be generalized to all box-constrained problems where convex Lagrangian relaxation can be applied. Furthermore, to the best of our knowledge, this is the first time that a Lagrangian heuristic is combined with pathfollowing techniques. Key words. semidefinite programming, quadratic programming, combinatorial optimization, non-convex programming, approximation methods and heuristics, pathfollowing, AMS classifications. 90C22, 90C20, 90C27, 90C26, 90C59 2
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