We study the quadratic cycle cover problem (QCCP), which aims to find a node-disjoint cycle cover in a directed graph with minimum interaction cost between successive arcs. We derive several semidefinite programming (SDP) relaxations and use facial reduction to make these strictly feasible. We investigate a nontrivial relationship between the transformation matrix used in the reduction and the structure of the graph, which is exploited in an efficient algorithm that constructs this matrix for any instance of the problem. To solve our relaxations, we propose an algorithm that incorporates an augmented Lagrangian method into a cutting-plane framework by utilizing Dykstra’s projection algorithm. Our algorithm is suitable for solving SDP relaxations with a large number of cutting-planes. Computational results show that our SDP bounds and efficient cutting-plane algorithm outperform other QCCP bounding approaches from the literature. Finally, we provide several SDP-based upper bounding techniques, among which is a sequential Q-learning method that exploits a solution of our SDP relaxation within a reinforcement learning environment. Summary of Contribution: The quadratic cycle cover problem (QCCP) is the problem of finding a set of node-disjoint cycles covering all the nodes in a graph such that the total interaction cost between successive arcs is minimized. The QCCP has applications in many fields, among which are robotics, transportation, energy distribution networks, and automatic inspection. Besides this, the problem has a high theoretical relevance because of its close connection to the quadratic traveling salesman problem (QTSP). The QTSP has several applications, for example, in bioinformatics, and is considered to be among the most difficult combinatorial optimization problems nowadays. After removing the subtour elimination constraints, the QTSP boils down to the QCCP. Hence, an in-depth study of the QCCP also contributes to the construction of strong bounds for the QTSP. In this paper, we study the application of semidefinite programming (SDP) to obtain strong bounds for the QCCP. Our strongest SDP relaxation is very hard to solve by any SDP solver because of the large number of involved cutting-planes. Because of that, we propose a new approach in which an augmented Lagrangian method is incorporated into a cutting-plane framework by utilizing Dykstra’s projection algorithm. We emphasize an efficient implementation of the method and perform an extensive computational study. This study shows that our method is able to handle a large number of cuts and that the resulting bounds are currently the best QCCP bounds in the literature. We also introduce several upper bounding techniques, among which is a distributed reinforcement learning algorithm that exploits our SDP relaxations.